HT: Mertens double rocks Roma

Dries Mertens has bagged a first half brace to give Napoli the 2-0 lead away to Roma in this showdown for fourth place.

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This was a head-to-head for fourth place, but the Giallorossi risked fatigue after Thursday night’s Europa League victory over Shakhtar Donetsk in Kiev. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Jordan Veretout, Chris Smalling, Juan Jesus and Nicolò Zaniolo were injured, with Bruno Peres suspended. Giovanni Di Lorenzo sat out a ban, with Andrea Petagna, Amir Rrahmani, Faouzi Ghoulam and Stanislav Lobotka on the treatment table. Hirving Lozano and Kostas Manolas returned from long lay-offs to a spot on the bench.

Gennaro Gattuso’s men won 4-0 in November, the first game Napoli played following the death of Diego Armando Maradona. They dominated possession early on at the Olimpico too, but Piotr Zielinski drilled wide and then the Dries Mertens first touch was surprisingly poor when he would’ve been clear on goal.

Mertens did far better for the opening goal. It was a cheeky free kick routine with a second Napoli wall that obscured Pau Lopez’s view and moved at the last second, allowing the Belgian to curl into the far corner from the very edge of the box.

Roma were struggling to string a few passes together and went 2-0 down, as Kalidou Koulibaly won it back to spark the counter, Lorenzo Insigne floated a ball to the back post, where Matteo Politano nodded it back across for Mertens to head into an empty net. It was a very special goal, as it was his 100th Serie A strike.

Roma woke up with a Bryan Cristante volley that David Ospina flew to palm away, but it was only a brief respite.

Roma 0-2 Napoli (Half-Time)

Mertens 27, 34 (N)

Roma: Pau Lopez; Mancini, Cristante, Ibanez; Karsdorp, Diawara, Pellegrini, Spinazzola; Pedro, El Shaarawy; Dzeko

Napoli: Ospina; Hysaj, Maksimovic, Koulibaly, Mario Rui; Fabian Ruiz, Demme; Politano, Zielinski, Insigne; Mertens

Ref: Di Bello