Napoli vs Lazio 4-0: Partenopei Honor Maradona in Style

Napoli utterly outclassed an out-of-sorts Lazio in Sunday’s Serie A blockbuster showdown at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium. Luciano Spalletti’s side cruised to an overwhelming 4-0 victory over the Biancocelesti to reinforce their position at the top of the league table and pay tribute to Maradona in emphatic fashion.

Though this was supposed to be a derby, Napoli did their best to make it one-way traffic and humiliate the former manager Maurizio Sarri. Piotr Zielinski broke the deadlock just seven minutes into the match, pouncing on a rebound to hammer the ball past Pepe Reina and put the Partenopei in front. But the hosts refused to rest on their laurels.

Only three minutes later, the Partenopei all-time highest scorer Dries Mertens reminded the home crowd how talismanic he could be when he is atop his game. The diminutive Belgian danced his way past the entire Lazio defense before smashing the ball inside the right post to double his team’s advantage and set the tone for another night to remember for the Napoli supporters.

Spalletti’s men continued to apply an intense, high press on the visitors, preventing Lazio’s attempts to build from the back. However, despite dropping deep, the Biancocelesti came close to pulling one back through Ciro Immobile. The club stalwart picked up the ball almost 30 yards outside the box and breezed past his marker, but Davide Ospina pulled off a comfortable save to deny the Italian striker in the 22nd minute.

The Colombian goalkeeper came up huge again to thwart Luis Alberto’s outrageous mid-range rocket towards the top left corner before the half-hour mark. Only a couple of minutes later, Francesco Acerbi outjumped his marker, but his powerful header rattled off the crossbar. That was arguably Lazio’s last opportunity of the match. 

And while the visitors failed to capitalize on their chances, Napoli had no mercy on the other end. Once again, Mertens stole the show. Hirving Lozano laid the ball off to the 34-year-old, who produced a moment of magic. The experienced forward sent his master-class first-time effort over powerless Reina and into the top left corner. 

Napoli’s comprehensive 3-0 half-time lead gave Lazio a mountain to climb in the second half. However, it feels like the visitors conceded defeat even before the start of the second period, practically rolling over in the next 45 minutes. The Biancocelesti failed to attempt a single shot on goal in the second half, allowing the Partenopei to control the tempo and hold the ball without asking questions. 

It feels like Spalletti’s men took their foot off the gas pedal despite enjoying 65% ball possession in the second half. Yet, they had a couple of decent chances to pour more misery on Lazio, as left-back Mario Rui latched onto a rebound, prompting Reina to a top-class save around the hour mark. 

And when it looked like the scoreline would stay intact, Fabian Ruiz scored another stunner. The Spanish midfielder got a devastating shot away from distance, finding the bottom left corner to cement Napoli’s win.

After Milan’s unexpected 3-1 home defeat to Sassuolo earlier today, the Partenopei are now three points clear at the Serie A summit. As for Lazio, another disturbing derby performance following last weekend’s 2-0 loss to Juventus leaves them seven points adrift of fourth-placed Atalanta.