Napoli honor Maradona by crushing Lazio and clearing the lead


MILAN, Italy, November 29Dazzling Napoli paid a perfect tribute to Diego Maradona on Sunday by beating Lazio 4-0 to take a three-point lead at the top of Serie A.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino was among those in attendance in Naples as the southern Italian city honored one of his adopted sons, who led Napoli to their only two league titles and the UEFA Cup 1989 and died a year ago on Thursday.

Fans chanted Maradona’s name as a statue, which depicts their idol in flight atop Number 10, was carried onto the pitch.

A tribute from Pelé was shown on the stadium’s big screens, as players stepped out for their pre-match warm-up to the sound of Opus’ “Life Is Life”, the song Maradona keeps keepie-uppies on. in one of the most beloved sequences of the Argentine in his pomp.

Inspired by the moving ceremony, Napoli took full advantage of AC Milan’s downfall in a 3-1 home loss to Sassuolo to go it alone at the top with an at times electrifying performance.

“We had one of our best performances, now the important thing is to always play like this, because you have to repeat these kinds of demonstrations. The way we played today was perfect, ”Dries Mertens told DAZN, after scoring a superb brace.

Wearing Maradona jerseys, Luciano Spalletti’s tops came out as a possessed team and blew Lazio upside down with three fantastic goals in the first half.

– Mertens rules out Lazio –

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The statue of Diego Maradona was unveiled before Napoli’s coup from Lazio © AFP / Alberto PIZZOLI

In almost perfect harmony with the occasion, it was another Neapolitan adopted at Mertens who led the charge, the Belgian nicknamed “Ciro” scoring a brilliant double that Maradona himself would have been proud of.

Piotr Zielinski got the ball rolling in the seventh minute by nearly digging a hole in the net with his rocket opener, and just three minutes later Mertens took the roof off the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona when he ended a brilliant blow throwing Patric on the bridge. with a feint and slits at home a cool finish.

After Luis Alberto and then Francesco Acerbi moved closer to Lazio in the span of a minute, Mertens effectively sealed the victory with over an hour to go with another magnificent goal, scoring a first strike that sailed on a desperate Pepe Reina and increased his club goal record to 139.

Fabian Ruiz then capped a perfect night when he hit the fourth from a distance.

The 34-year-old’s three class goals in his last two Serie A games will also give Spalletti hope that he can do without star striker Victor Osimhen, who was out for up to three months with broken legs. face.

“These are goals that give me a lot of satisfaction … Victor is injured and that’s when you have to be ready,” added Mertens.

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