Soccer-Serie A leaders Napoli mark Maradona anniversary with dazzling win over Lazio
The performance was befitting of the man, too, with the home side blowing away Lazio with a stunning show of attacking football, racing into a 3-0 lead inside 29 minutes thanks to goals from Piotr Zielinski and a double from Dries Mertens. With the job done, Napoli took their foot off the gas in the second half but Lazio did not register a single shot on or off target in response.
Club great Maradona died on Nov. 25 last year and to mark the anniversary, Napoli unveiled a statue inside the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium pre-match and wore shirts with the Argentine's face on them for the Lazio clash. The performance was befitting of the man, too, with the home side blowing away Lazio with a stunning show of attacking football, racing into a 3-0 lead inside 29 minutes thanks to goals from Piotr Zielinski and a double from Dries Mertens.
With the job done, Napoli took their foot off the gas in the second half but Lazio did not register a single shot on or off target in response. Fabian Ruiz put the icing on the cake with a pinpoint fourth goal late on. The result moved Napoli three points clear at the top of the standings after second-placed AC Milan slipped to a surprise defeat at home to Sassuolo earlier on Sunday, while Lazio dropped to eighth following their second successive league loss.
"It is our best performance, especially as it comes after a couple of performances that were not up to our standards, so it means something that we beat a big club like Lazio this way," coach Luciano Spalletti told DAZN. "Mertens brings that quality to the finishing but it would be reductive just to praise him. The whole team was wonderful, it had been a long time since we had this possession football with short, quick passes."
Elsewhere in Serie A on Sunday, a first-half goal from English striker Tammy Abraham was enough to earn AS Roma a 1-0 win over Torino that sent Jose Mourinho's men above their city rivals Lazio into fifth. Rain in Naples could not put a dampener on a special night for leaders Napoli.
It took Zielinski just seven minutes to put his side in front after a relentless start from the hosts, drilling home from the edge of the penalty area after the ball had fallen into his path. Then, Mertens channelled his inner Maradona to fire a sublime double. His first, in the 10th minute, was a superb solo effort, as he twisted and turned before finishing clinically. His second, just before the half-hour mark, was a perfect curling strike over Lazio goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
In the second half, there was a party atmosphere in the stadium, with the home team pulling out flicks and tricks as Lazio offered no threat. Ruiz capped Napoli's 11th win from 14 league games with a fine goal from long range in the 85th minute.
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