Dazzling Napoli


Napoli put on a dazzling display to mark the first anniversary of Diego Maradona’s death when they stormed to a 4-0 win over Lazio on Sunday to move three points clear at the top of Serie A.

Club great Maradona died on Nov. 25 last year and to mark the anniversary, Napoli unveiled a statue inside the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium prematch 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.

“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.”

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.

Sassuolo stun AC Milan

AC Milan slipped to their second successive Serie A defeat when Sassuolo stunned their opponents in the San Siro after coming from behind to earn a 3-1 victory on Sunday.

The hosts raced into an early lead after skipper Alessio Romagnoli headed home from a corner in the 21st minute, and Milan looked on course to get back to winning ways in the league following last weekend’s loss at Fiorentina.

However, Sassuolo, who beat Juventus away from home last month, turned the match on its head, with Gianluca Scamacca’s stunning strike and Simon Kjaer’s unfortunate own goal giving them a 2-1 lead inside 33 minutes.

Even with veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic leading the line, Milan struggled to issue a response, as Domenico Berardi made sure of a thoroughly deserved victory for Sassuolo with a superb solo goal in the 66th minute.

Romagnoli’s red card in the 77th minute effectively ended Milan’s hopes of getting anything from the match. They remain second in the standings, level on 32 points with leaders Napoli, who play Lazio later on Sunday.

Sassuolo’s first win in four league games sees them climb to 12th on 18 points.

“We lacked a cutting edge,” Milan coach Stefano Pioli told DAZN.

“We got too much wrong in key situations, especially in the opposing area.”

We missed the last pass or the attack on the goal. We had to manage the one-goal advantage better and instead we made a mistake that proved costly.

“It is clear that if we have now conceded seven goals in two [league] games, something did not work.”

Milan came into the contest on the back of the defeat in Florence last weekend -their first of the season in Serie A.

But, having earned a crucial Champions League victory in midweek over Atletico Madrid, they looked in better form as Romagnoli’s first goal of the season gave them a deserved lead.

Then Scamacca’s bolt from the blue, an arrowing strike from 25 metres that flew into the top corner in the 24th minute, stunned the hosts, who were behind before they knew it.

Scamacca had a big hand in the visitors’ second goal, too, as it was his drilled attempt that was saved by returning Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan, but the ball came back off Kjaer and into his own net.

After the break, Ibrahimovic unleashed a fierce strike from a distance that fizzed just wide, but otherwise, Sassuolo were containing their opponents with ease.

The goal that sealed the victory was clinical in its execution, as Italy forward Berardi twisted and turned before drilling past Maignan to spark wild scenes of celebration.


 Courtesy: Reuters

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