MILAN: A ‘mourning’ Napoli honoured their club legend Diego Maradona on Sunday with a 4-0 victory over AS Roma, as AC Milan extended their lead in Serie A by beating Fiorentina.
In Naples, players took to the pitch wearing a special Argentina-inspired jersey in tribute to Maradona, who died last Wednesday.
Captain Lorenzo Insigne curled in a free-kick after half an hour, celebrating his goal by holding up and kissing the No. 10 jersey of the Argentina great.
Fabian Ruiz added a second just after an hour, with club-record goalscorer Dries Mertens and substitute Matteo Politano adding two more in the final ten minutes.
“There is an air of sadness,” said Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso. “This is a wonderful city even when the weather is bad and yet there is an atmosphere of mourning.”
A minute’s silence had been observed before the game, as in all matches in Italy, in memory of Maradona who spent seven years at Napoli.
A photo of Maradona was projected onto giant screens in the 10th minute, as players stopped to applaud.
Napoli’s jersey with white and light blue vertical stripes was specially designed to remember Maradona who led the club to their only league titles in 1987 and 1990 and the UEFA Cup in 1989.
Napoli overtook Roma to move fifth, with both teams six points behind leaders AC Milan.
Milan pulled five points clear of city rivals Inter Milan and Sassuolo after seeing off Fiorentina 2-0.
Champions Juventus are fourth, six points behind.
At the San Siro, Serie A top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic watched from the stands after picking up a muscle injury last weekend.
Franck Kessie set up Alessio Romagnoli for the opener on 17 minutes, with the Ivorian forward adding a second from the penalty spot 10 minutes later.
Fiorentina goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski denied Kessie a second spot-kick goal in the first half after Martin Caceres fouled Theo Hernandez.
Milan have now gone 21 league matches without defeat since Serie A returned in June following the coronavirus lockdown.
In Rome, Lazio slumped to a 3-1 loss to Udinese. The hosts trailed a when Roberto Pereyra set up Tolgay Arslan for Udinese’s first goal. Rodrigo De Paul then set up Ignacio Pussetto for the second just before the break, and provided the assist for Fernando Forestieri’s third midway through the second half. Lazio pulled a goal back through a Ciro Immobile penalty on 74 minutes.
Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2020