Mertens hits 4 as Napoli win eight-goal thriller

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Dries Mertens scored four goals, in­clud­ing a nine-minute first-half hat-trick, as Napoli for­got their scor­ing prob­lems with a 5-3 win over Torino in Serie A on Sun­day.

It was a se­cond suc­ces­sive hat-trick for the Bel­gian, who is play­ing as an im­pro­vised cen­tre-for­ward following Arka­diusz Mi­lik’s longterm knee in­jury, and took Napoli’s goal tally to 13 in their last three league matches.

Napoli’s win lifted them to third with 34 points, one be­hind AS Roma and eight adrift of lead­ers Ju­ven­tus.

Lazio later pulled level on points with Napoli by beat­ing Fiorentina 3-1 while Palermo ended a run of nine suc­ces­sive league de­feats by scor­ing twice in the fi­nal three min­utes to win 4-3 at Genoa. Mertens be­came the first Serie A player to score suc­ces­sive hat-tricks for 22 years and the first to score four times in a game since Sas­suolo’s Domenico Ber­ardi in Jan­uary 2014.

It was hard to be­lieve that Napoli had strug­gled for goals im­me­di­ately af­ter Mi­lik was in­jured play­ing for Poland in early Oc­to­ber. Mertens opened his ac­count in the 13th minute, send­ing his shot through a crowd of play­ers following a cor­ner, and added the se­cond from a penalty five min­utes later. Torino were all over the place and Mertens com­pleted his hat-trick in the 22nd minute af­ter Jose Calle­jon’s shot was stopped by Joe Hart and the Bel­gian’s first at­tempt was cleared off the line. The se­cond half was a dif­fer­ent story as An­drea Belotti pulled one back for the vis­i­tors just be­fore the hour, Vlad Chiriches scored Napoli’s fourth and Luca Ros­set­tini replied for Torino af­ter Pepe Reina failed to hold Adem Lja­jic’s free kick.

Mertens then pro­duced his best goal of the game with a de­light­ful chip past Hart be­fore Iago Falque pulled an­other back for ninth­placed Torino with a penalty.

Keita Balde and a Lu­cas Biglia penalty put Lazio 2-0 ahead at half­time against Fiorentina be­fore the vis­i­tors hit back. Fiorentina’s Josip Ili­cic missed a penalty be­fore Mauro Zarate pulled one goal back only for Stefano Radu to wrap it up for Lazio in the fi­nal minute.

Two goals from Gio­vanni Sime­one, the son of Atletico Madrid coach Diego, helped Genoa to take a 3-1 lead over Palermo be­fore the Si­cil­ians ral­lied to move off the bot­tom of the ta­ble. Edoardo Goldaniga headed one goal back in the 69th minute, An­drea Ris­poli lev­elled in the 88th minute and Alek­san­dar Tra­jkovski scored a last-minute win­ner.

Genoa’s frus­tra­tion boiled over when goal­keeper Mat­tia Perin was sent off for push­ing an op­po­nent. An­to­nio Can­dreva’s se­cond-half goal gave an un­con­vinc­ing In­ter Mi­lan a 1-0 away win over Sas­suolo, who had 10 play­ers on the in­jured list. Seventh-placed In­ter had mid­fielder Felipe Melo sent off in stop­page time for a se­cond book­able of­fence.

Bot­tom club Pescara had Va­le­rio Verre given a straight red card for a dan­ger­ous tackle af­ter only 16 min­utes as they slumped to a 3-0 home de­feat against Bologna.

Bologna, al­ready lead­ing from Adam Masina’s header, added fur­ther goals with a Blerim Dze­maili shot which took a huge de­flec­tion and a Ladislav Kre­jci penalty.

Cyril Thereau scored twice to give Udi­nese a 2-0 win over lowly Cro­tone, their third win a row, while the pro­moted side’s un­happy af­ter­noon was com­pleted when goal­keeper Alex Cor­daz was sent off in the 86th minute for han­dling out­side the penalty area.

First-half goals from Ric­cardo Meg­gior­ini and Ser­gio Pel­lissier set up a 2-1 win for Chievo over Sam­p­do­ria in Verona.— Reuters

GENOA: Genoa’s Ar­mando Izzo, right, tack­les Palermo’s Robin Kwamina Quai­son dur­ing the Serie A soc­cer match be­tween Genoa and Palermo at the Luigi Fer­raris Sta­dium in Genoa, Italy, Sun­day. — AP

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