Napoli so­lid­i­fies hold on 2nd place with 4-0 win over Frosi­none

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - SPORT -

Napoli is not only Dries Mertens and Lorenzo In­signe.

A 4-0 vic­tory over pro­moted Frosi­none yes­ter­day didn't in­clude any goals from the south­ern club's stand­out strik­ers.

Arka­diusz Mi­lik scored twice, Faouzi Ghoulam pro­vided two as­sists in his first match in more than a year, and Piotr Zielin­ski and Adam Ou­nas also found the net.

With Mertens rested, the col­lec­tive ef­fort was the per­fect warmup for a de­ci­sive visit to Liver­pool in the Cham­pi­ons League on Tues­day.

The win also so­lid­i­fied Napoli's hold on se­cond place in Serie A. The Partenopei moved six points ahead of third-place In­ter Mi­lan, which lost 1-0 to leader Ju­ven­tus on Fri­day. Ju­ven­tus is eight points ahead of Napoli.

"This was a dan­ger­ous match, a clas­sic trap that we could have fallen into, es­pe­cially ahead of a Cham­pi­ons League game," Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti said. "Those who de­buted or made their come­backs to­day should be ap­plauded, as they knew how to wait, pre­pare and were ready when called upon.

"We can start think­ing about Liver­pool now, but we've got to try to re­main calm and fo­cused. We're en­ter­ing with the right men­tal­ity, the play­ers are in good shape and a few even rested to­day."

Goal­keeper Alex Meret, who was signed from Udi­nese in the off­sea­son for 22 mil­lion eu­ros ($25 mil­lion), made his Napoli de­but. Signed to re­place the de­parted Pepe Reina, Meret broke his arm in his se­cond train­ing ses­sion with Napoli.

While Meret was rarely tested, Zielin­ski put Napoli ahead early on from the edge of the area fol­low­ing a re­bound of a shot from In­signe.

Ou­nas then dou­bled the ad­van­tage be­fore the break with a long curl­ing shot that was de­flected slightly by a de­fender.

Mi­lik headed in his first in the 68th and then beat the off­side trap for an­other in the 84th.

Mi­lik has scored seven goals in 13 matches, match­ing Mertens and In­signe for the squad lead.

Both of Mi­lik's goals were set up by Ghoulam, the full­back who had been out since tear­ing his an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment last year against Manch­ester City.

NINE-MAN DRAMA

Nine-man Cagliari scored a last­minute equal­izer to earn a 2-2 draw against strug­gling Roma — which is at risk of miss­ing out on the Cham­pi­ons League places.

Cagliari coach Rolando Maran, Luca Cep­pitelli and Dar­ijo Srna had all been sent off for dis­sent when Marco Sau com­pleted a coun­ter­at­tack by sprint­ing past four de­fend­ers in the fifth minute of added time.

Roma was lead­ing 2-0 be­fore Ar­tur Ionita's header in the 84th sliced the lead in half.

Bryan Cris­tante and Alek­san­dar Ko­larov scored in the first half for Roma.

Roma re­mained sev­enth — and at se­ri­ous risk of drop­ping down the ta­ble fol­low­ing Sun­day's matches — while Cagliari moved up to 13th.

Roma has won only one of its last seven matches in the Ital­ian league.

How­ever, the Gial­lorossi have al­ready ad­vanced to the knock­out stage of the Cham­pi­ons League as they at­tempt to fol­low up on last sea­son's run to the semi­fi­nals.

Roma vis­its Vik­to­ria Plzen on Wed­nes­day in a match that re­ally only has im­pli­ca­tions for Plzen, which is at­tempt­ing to hold on to third place in Group G and a spot in the Europa League.

Napoli's Piotr Zielin­ski, left, cel­e­brates with team­mate Se­bas­tian Lu­perto

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