Napoli Trample Roma as Insigne Scores One for Maradona

A magnificent Lorenzo Insigne free kick. One Diego Maradona would have been proud of. Then, three more goals in the second half to complete Napoli’s brutal dismantling of Roma in the night when the San Paolo emotionally celebrated his most beloved child who passed away earlier this week.

From the stadium virtual choreography, to the Azzurri wearing a special outfit featuring the colors of Argentina, everything reminded of Maradona tonight and Napoli honored him in emphatic fashion. They could not have bidden a better farewell to the man who made the name of Naples and its club renown in the football world.

But tonight’s hammering was also a sudden wake-up call for Roma, who suffered their first seasonal defeat on the pitch and lost a chance to grab the second spot in the Serie A table. On the other hand, they were reached by Napoli at 17 points, 6 behind table-leader Milan who must be the happiest side at tonight’s score.

There were two notable absentees among the Napoli lines as Gattuso couldn’t count on injured Victor Osimhen and one-match banner Tiemoué Bakayoko. The Calabrian coach lined up the same starting XI who had beat Rijeka in the Europa League on Thurdsday, with Dries Mertens playing as a falso nueve supported form behind by Hirving Lozano, Piotr Zielinski and Lorenzo Insigne.

Paulo Fonseca of Roma had a few problems in defense due to the multiple absences and was forced to deploy midfielder Bryan Cristante as a center back. Things would get even worse for him at the back as Gianluca Mancini got injured after just 37 minutes, leaving room for Juan Jesus. The only good news for him was the return of Edin Dzeko after his isolation period due to testing positive for Covid.

The first 30 minutes went away with no significant scoring chance from either side, except for Napoli conceding Pedro an early drive shot that however ended wide away from the goal target.

Then, a sudden magic  enlightened the night at the San Paolo as Lorenzo Insigne converted a free kick from sidereal distance. With his deadly right foot, Naples’ currently most cherished son fired the ball right next to Antonio Mirante’s right post to put the Partenopei ahead.

His celebration was what everyone was expecting, with Insigne grabbing a celebratory number 10 shirt featuring Maradona’s name and kissing it multiple times.

Napoli went for the second on 42 minutes and it took a super save on the part of Antonio Mirante to stop Piotr Zielinski and Dries Mertens’ fast break, with the Belgian seeing his shot denied by Roma’s keeper.

The Partenopei accumulated eight corner kicks and a 58% ball possession during the initial 45 minutes. At half time, their lead was a deserved one. Paulo Fonseca’s boys didn’t come close to ever threaten Alex Meret and the Portuguese coach also had the additional trouble of needing to substitute in succession injured Gianluca Mancini and Jordan Veretout.

Hirving Lozano tested Mirante early after the restart but Roma’s shot-stopper proved equal to the task. He couldn’t do much, however, when Fabian Ruiz received a Lorenzo Insigne service and drove the ball far from his reach to double the Azzurri‘s lead and collect his first Serie A goal this season.

In the 70th minute, Edin Dzeko left room to Carles Perez as Roma lost their offensive terminal. The Giallorossi were lacking ideas and Lorenzo Pellegrini’s long-range shot – which ended into the empty stands of the San Paolo, perfectly summarized that. That would be the closest they would come to scoring in the whole game – and that says much about their performance tonight.

Napoli understood that and scored the third from a lethal counterattack, with Dries Mertens tapping the ball in from some poor Mirante goalkeeping – as Roma’s number 1 failed to hold a not-so-irresistible shot from substitute Elif Elmas.

In the 86th minute, Matteo Politano joined the party with a beautiful solo effort which saw him dribbling past four Roma players, including the goalkeeper, before depositing the ball into the back of the net to wrap a triumphal 4-0 win for the Partenopei. He, as well, must have re-watched some old Maradona tapes recently.

And Diego – wherever he might be now – must have had some real fun watching his Napoli tonight.



November 29, 2020 – Serie A 2020-2021 Round 9

SCORERS: 30′ Insigne, 64′ Fabian Ruiz, 81′ Mertens, 86′ Politano

NAPOLI (4-2-3-1): Meret; Di Lorenzo, Manolas, Koulibaly, Mario Rui; Fabian Ruiz, Demme (84′ Lobotka); Lozano (67′ Politano), Zielinski (78′ Elmas), Insigne; Mertens (83′ Petagna) (Ospina, Contini, Ghoulam, Malcuit, Maksimovic, Llorente) Coach: Gattuso
ROMA (3-4-2-1): Mirante; Mancini (38′ Juan Jesus), Cristante, Ibanez; Karsdorp, Veretout (46′ Villar), Pellegrini (79′ Borja Mayoral), Spinazzola; Pedro, Mkhitaryan; Dzeko (71′ Carles Perez) (Pau Lopez, Farelli, Bruno Peres, Feratovic, Calafiori, Diawara, Providence) Coach: Fonseca

REFEREE: Mr. Di Bello from Brindisi
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Di Lorenzo (N), Ibanez, Cristante (R); Extra Time: 1st Half 2′; 2nd Half 0′

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