Mertens hits hat-trick as Napoli rout Cagliari

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Dries Mertens hit a hat-trick and Marek Ham­sik and Piotr Zielin­ski scored one apiece as five star Napoli romped to a 5-0 win at Cagliari to close to within five points of Ju­ven­tus. Cham­pi­ons Ju­ven­tus can take their lead over Roma and AC Mi­lan to seven points with a win in the Turin derby at Torino later. In the mean­time, the Old Lady’s ti­tle ri­vals are clos­ing in. Both Lazio, who se­cured a 2-1 win at Sam­p­do­ria on Saturday, and Napoli are now five points off the pace and Roma and AC Mi­lan will aim to re­duce their four-point gaps to the cham­pi­ons when they play to­day. Fresh from se­cur­ing top spot in their Cham­pi­ons League qual­i­fy­ing group and sweep­ing In­ter Mi­lan aside last week, Napoli made a con­fi­dent start with Jose Calle­jon, Zielin­ski and then Mertens test­ing Marco Storari in the Cagliari net in the open­ing 11 min­utes.

Cagliari had dropped points in only two of their seven home fix­tures, but Mau­r­izio Sarri’s men were about to change that in clin­i­cal fash­ion. Just af­ter the half-hour Mertens turned quickly in the area to fire a pin­point shot past Storari and into the far bot­tom cor­ner. The vis­i­tors suf­fered a blow when Sene­gal de­fender Kali­dou Koulibaly limped off in­jured with an ap­par­ent knee in­jury.

But Napoli dou­bled their lead be­fore the in­ter­val when Ham­sik slot­ted home from close range af­ter In­signe had nod­ded a Calle­jon cross on to the bar. It was the Slo­vak’s 105th goal for Napoli and leaves him 10 short of ty­ing Diego Maradona’s club record of 115.

Storari did well to parry Calle­jon’s first­timer from an In­signe pass shortly af­ter the restart but couldn’t stop Zielin­ski’s rocket from dis­tance on 51 min­utes.

Cagliari’s heads dropped and a clin­i­cal Mertens cap­i­talised with a brace of goals in three sec­ond-half min­utes.

— AFP

CAGLIARI: Napoli’s Croa­t­ian de­fender Ivan Strinic (R) fights for the ball with Cagliari’s Ital­ian mid­fielder Daniele Dessena dur­ing the Ital­ian Serie A foot­ball match Cagliari Cal­cio vs SSC Napoli at the Sant’Elia Sta­dium in Cagliari yes­ter­day.

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