Mertens brace keeps Napoli top

Mertens brace keeps Napoli top
Napoli's forward from Belgium Dries Mertens (left) celebrates with teammate Napoli's midfielder from Spain Jose Maria Callejon after scoring during the Italian Serie A match

Milan - Maurizio Sarri's side have 57 points from 22 games


Published: Sun 28 Jan 2018, 9:21 PM

Last updated: Mon 29 Jan 2018, 5:19 PM

Dries Mertens scored a brace as Napoli bounced back from a goal down to reclaim top spot in Serie A on Sunday with a 3-1 home win over Bologna.
Napoli restored their one-point advantage over champions Juventus who went top after Sami Khedira and Gonzalo Higuain scored in a 2-0 win at nine-man Chievo on Saturday.
In Naples, it proved to be a battle with Rodrigo Palacio nodding Bologna ahead after 25 seconds before an Ibrahima Mbaye own goal four minutes later pulled the hosts back at their Stadio San Paolo.
Mertens edged Napoli ahead on 37 minutes with a penalty awarded for a foul on Jose Callejon. The Belgian then claimed his 13th goal of the season with a spectacular curling effort on 59 minutes.
Maurizio Sarri's side have 57 points from 22 games, one more than Juventus. Inter Milan missed a chance to move third with a frustrating 1-1 draw at promoted SPAL.
Inter are two points behind Lazio who can move further ahead when they play AC Milan at San Siro later on Sunday. Roma are just three points behind Inter in fifth before playing at Sampdoria.
It was Inter's seventh consecutive league game without a win.
Alberto Paloschi headed in a last-gasp equaliser to grab a precious point for SPAL after Inter had taken the lead on 48 minutes when defender Francesco Vicari turned the ball into his own net.
"When you concede a goal like that in stoppage time, it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth," said Inter coach Luciano Spalletti.
"It doesn't change anything though. There is certainly work to be done better. I wouldn't say I'm worried, even when we were winning I didn't see big improvements. Now the results are worse, we're losing easy balls and at other times we're not fighting."
SPAL goalkeeper Alex Meret was unworried by an Inter side who have not won since December 3 and were uninspiring in Ferrara with recent arrivals Rafinha and Lisandro Lopez on the bench.
Despite trailing for most of the second half, SPAL proved dogged and their pressing paid off when former Milan forward Paloschi turned in a Mirco Antenucci cross on the stroke of full-time.
Spalletti introduced on-loan Barcelona midfielder Rafinha for the final minutes of the game but the Brazilian failed to lift his team against a SPAL side still in the relegation zone.
Elsewhere struggling Verona shocked Fiorentina 4-1 in Tuscany to end a run of four consecutive defeats, as Udinese moved up to eighth with a 1-0 win at Genoa despite Samir's sending off with a second half goal from Valon Behrami sealing the three points.
Crotone and Cagliari drew 1-1 in a relegation battle as Torino thrashed bottom team Benevento 3-0, with Vid Belec sent off for a kick on M'Baye Niang.

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