Napoli Submit Colorless Roma as Dries Mertens Bags Brace

Napoli welcomed back Dries Mertens in his goal-scoring version as the Belgian pocket-sized striker bagged a brace to secure his side a 2-0 win in the Derby del Sole against Roma. The Partenopei thus moved to the fifth spot in the Serie A table with a possibility to grab the third place if they beat Juventus in a postponed match from Round 2.

Moreover, Gennaro Gattuso’s side distanced a direct contender for a Champions League spot next season, while the Giallorossi failed once again to collect points against one of their potential opponents on the way towards Europe.

Roma collected only 3 out of 27 points available so far against top clubs and tonight appeared completely out of focus for the whole first half – as coach Paulo Fonseca himself admitted in his post-match remarks. When they finally started to play, Napoli had already put two past them and the best Roma could come up with was a Lorenzo Pellegrini shot that hit David Ospina’s post. Definitely not enough.

There were no big surprises in either lineup, except for Paulo Fonseca deploying Lorenzo Pellegrini as a central midfielder. His usual trequartista spot was taken by Pedro, who was placed next to Stephan El Shaarawy behind lone striker Edin Dzeko. Gennaro Gattuso’s choice for the attacking position, on the other hand, was Dries Mertens rather than Victor Osimhen. Gattuso wouldn’t regret it.

Napoli were more vibrant since the very beginning as the Giallorossi seemed tired from their mid-week Europa League game against Shakhtar. The initial 15 minutes were a Neapolitan monologue, with the only Dzeko trying to shake things up with a long-range shot that ended wide away of the target. 

The Partenopei put their heads ahead on 27 minutes with a Dries Mertens free-kick. The Belgian’s execution was perfect, his curling effort finding the right spot into Pau Lopez’s bottom left corner but Roma’s Spanish goalkeeper appeared slow to react and to cover “his” post. 

Seven more minutes, and Napoli added to Pau Lopez’s woes as the Spaniard was too hesitant in trying to catch a brilliant Lorenzo Insigne cross. Lopez remained in no man’s land, allowing Matteo Politano to head the ball towards Mertens, who comfortably slot it into the untended goal.

Roma’s reaction was all in a Bryan Cristante shot on which goalie David Ospina did a better figure than his Roma counterpart.

Right after the restart, Lorenzo Pellegrini’s header – albeit comfortably saved by Ospina – seemed to herald Roma’s change of pace. But despite Lorenzo Spinazzola and Stephan El Shaarawy’s renewed efforts on the left chain, the Giallorossi continued to struggle to create chances as their offensive terminal Edin Dzeko was nowhere to be seen.

And so, the best chance for Roma came again from Lorenzo Pellegrini – but his screamer from out of the box made Ospina’s left post rattle. Fonseca tried to reshuffle his cards with a triple substitution, but neither Carles Perez, nor Gonzalo Villar, nor Europa League top scorer Borja Mayoral managed to make an impact for the home side.

Napoli didn’t have to sweat much to wrap their second win in a row, whereas Roma had to bend their knees again after falling to Parma one week ago. Nothing is lost for the Giallorossi – especially as they are the only Italian team still in contention for European silverware – but Paulo Fonseca need to find a way to bounce back fast.



March 21, 2021 – Serie A 2020-2021 Round 28

SCORERS: 27′ Mertens, 34′ Mertens

ROMA (3-4-2-1): Pau Lopez; Mancini, Cristante, Ibanez; Karsdorp, Diawara (67′ Villar), Pellegrini, Spinazzola; Pedro (67′ Carles Perez), El Shaarawy; Dzeko (67′ Borja Mayoral) (Mirante, Fuzato, Kumbulla, Fazio, Santon, Reynolds, Calafiori, Pastore) Coach: Fonseca
NAPOLI (4-2-3-1): Ospina; Hysaj, Maksimovic (86′ Manolas), Koulibaly, Mario Rui; Fabian Ruiz, Demme; Politano (73′ Lozano), Zielinski (73′ Elmas), L. Insigne (86′ Bakayoko); Mertens (66′ Osimhen) (Meret, Contini, Zedadka, Costanzo, Cioffi) Coach: Gattuso

REFEREE: Mr. Di Bello from Brindisi
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Mancini, Diawara, El Shaarawy, Villar (R), Zielinski, Ospina, Koulibaly, Osimhen (N); Extra Time: 1st Half 0′, 2nd Half 5′