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Dublin: 12°C Tuesday 18 May 2021

Four-goal Napoli crush Roma in honour of Maradona

AC Milan, meanwhile, top the Serie A table.

Image: Alessandro Garofalo/LaPresse

Updated Nov 29th 2020, 10:31 PM

NAPOLI PLAYERS TOOK to the pitch wearing a special Argentina-inspired jersey on Sunday in honour of club legend Diego Maradona, going on to crush Serie A rivals Roma 4-0 in his memory.

Captain Lorenzo Insigne curled in a free-kick after half an hour, celebrating his goal by holding up and kissing the No. 10 jersey of the Argentina legend, who died aged 60 on Wednesday.

“It’s sure these days after Maradona’s death have given us an extra boost, our idol has passed away and it hurts,” said Insigne. 

“Today we wanted more than usual to perform and get a result, for him and for the whole city that is suffering. We dedicate the victory to him.” 

Napoli’s jersey with white and light blue vertical stripes, was specially designed to pay tribute to Napoli’s legendary number 10 who led the club to their only league titles in 1987 and 1990 and the Uefa Cup in 1989.

Insigne added: “Tonight’s game must be a starting point, if we play like this we can beat anyone. 

“Head down and work, we can do great things.”

Players also wore black armbands, with a minute’s silence observed before the game, as in all matches in Italy, in memory of Maradona who spent seven years at Napoli.

A photo of the former Argentina star was projected onto giant screens in the 10th minute, as players stopped to applaud.

Fabian Ruiz added a second just after an hour with club record goalscorer Dries Mertens slotting in a third with 10 minutes to go.

Substitute Matteo Politano added a fourth with a solo run through the Roma defence four minutes from time as the side from the capital fell to their first away defeat this season.

Napoli, who had lost two in a row at home, overtook Roma to move fifth in Serie A, with both teams equal on 17 points after nine games. 

The launch of Napoli’s new jersey had already been planned before Maradona’s death, the club said.

“A year ago, together with Kappa, we thought of designing a special jersey that echoes Diego Maradona, his beloved Argentina and the very strong bond with the people of Naples,” Napoli said in a statement.

“Together we hoped that Diego could see it, maybe wear it and share in the excitement with us.”

“The shirt that will be worn by the players… will have an even greater significance than initially assumed,” it added.

On Thursday, Napoli players took to the pitch wearing Maradona’s iconic number 10 jersey before their 2-0 Europa League win over Croatian side Rijeka.

The Stadio San Paolo is expected to soon be renamed after the 1986 World Cup winner following a suggestion made by the Mayor of Napoli.

AC Milan, meanwhile, shrugged off the absence of injured star Zlatan Ibrahimovic to consolidate their lead in Serie A on Sunday with a 2-0 win over Fiorentina.

Milan pulled five points clear of city rivals Inter Milan and Sassuolo, with AS Roma and Juventus six points adrift.

But Lazio slumped to a 3-1 home defeat to Udinese, days before their Champions League trip to Borussia Dortmund, in a victory paved by the visitors’ Argentina players on a day Serie A paid tribute to Maradona.

Serie A top scorer Ibrahimovic watched from the stands after picking up a muscle injury last weekend. Head coach Stefano Pioli was absent recovering from coronavirus, but Milan extended their unbeaten run in the league this season.

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ac-milan-v-acf-fiorentina-serie-a Zlatan Ibrahimovic watches on from the stands. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Franck Kessie set up Alessio Romagnoli for the opener after 17 minutes with the Ivorian forward adding a second from the penalty spot 10 minutes later.

Fiorentina goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski denied Kessie a second in the first half after Martin Caceres fouled Theo Hernandez.

Franck Ribery missed chances for Fiorentina with Gianluigi Donnarumma holding firm in the Milan goal.

Pioli spoke to the team by video link after the game.

“Pioli congratulated everyone for winning this very important match,” said Kessie. 

“It’s like this on penalties, either your score or miss, but I’ll still take the next one.”

New Fiorentina coach Cesare Prandelli fell to his second defeat in as many games, with his side above the relegation zone without a goal in their last four games.

In Rome, Lazio’s players took to the pitch with special edition ‘AD10S’ jersies in honour of former Argentina and Napoli great Maradona who died last week aged 60.

But the hosts trailed after quarter of an hour when Argentine Roberto Pereyra set up Turkish midfielder Tolgay Arslan for Udinese’s first goal against Lazio in the Stadio Olimpico in six years.

Rodrigo De Paul then set up fellow Argentine Ignacio Pussetto for the second just before the break, and provided the assist for another compatriot Fernando Forestieri’s third midway through the second half.

After his goal, Pussetto opened his two hands wide, to symbolise the number 10, Maradona’s jersey number. 

Forestieri dedicated the success to Maradona after the match: “This victory is for him!” 

“After the goal I felt like crying, Diego was the greatest of all time,” said Forestieri.

Lazio looked weary after the 3-1 Champions League win over Zenit Saint Petersburg, but pulled a goal back through a Ciro Immobile penalty after 74 minutes.

The Romans are midtable in ninth, nine points behind AC Milan.

“It’s a bad defeat, we need to reset as soon as possible,” said coach Simone Inzaghi, whose side have picked up five points in five home games this season. 

“We knew that the Champions League saps energy, other teams also struggled this weekend, but I expected more from the lads.

“We all take responsibility, me first of all.”

italy-soccer-serie-a A screen at the Stadio Olympico remembers Maradona. Source: Alfredo Falcone/LaPresseALFREDO FALCONE

The north-eastern side achieved back-to-back wins for the first time this season, to move up to 12th.

© – AFP, 2020

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