With 3 goals in 5 minutes, Napoli shows off its potential
By ANDREW DAMPF
Sep. 20, 2017
ROME (AP) — With a three-goal burst in the space of five minutes, Napoli showed why many believe the southern club has the potential to win its first Serie A title in nearly three decades.
Overturning an early deficit, Kalidou Koulibaly, Jose Callejon and Dries Mertens scored early in the second half of a 4-1 win over Lazio on Wednesday to extend Napoli's perfect record.
While six-time defending champion Juventus also remained perfect with an unimpressive 1-0 win over 10-man Fiorentina, Napoli tops the table on goal difference.
Ciro Immobile set up Stefan de Vrij for Lazio's opener as Napoli appeared in difficulty at the Stadio Olimpico.
But one defensive lapse was all the visitors needed to level.
Raul Albiol was left unmarked at the far post for a corner and while his shot was parried by Lazio goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha, Koulibaly put in the rebound.
Callejon then found the target with an angled shot from inside the area and Mertens rounded out the rapid-fire scoring with a long-distance lob after Strakosha was drawn out of position.
Lorenzo Insigne nearly added another, but his effort hit the post a few minutes later.
Jorginho added a penalty for Napoli in added time.
"I wasn't worried at halftime. The team was doing well, but so was Lazio and they went ahead on one of the few chances conceded," Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri said. "The lads did well in the second half. We turned things around.
"This is a big win, because they had beaten Juventus (in the Italian Super Cup) and AC Milan. This was a high-risk match," Sarri added.
It's the third time Napoli has relied on a second-half burst this season, having also scored three goals after the break in a 3-1 win over Atalanta and again in a 3-0 victory over Bologna.
The results have Napoli fans dreaming of its first "scudetto" since Diego Maradona led the club to its only two Serie A titles in 1987 and 1990.
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri stormed off the pitch at the final whistle in the Bianconeri's victory over Fiorentina.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men after Mario Mandzukic's goal early in the second half but Juventus wasted a series of chances to extend its lead.
Juan Cuadrado put in a strong performance on the right flank and provided the cross for Mandzukic to crouch down and score with a header.
Fiorentina midfielder Milan Badelj picked up his second yellow card for a foul on Blaise Matuidi. The referee initially called for a penalty but changed his mind after consulting the video assistant referee.
Edin Dzeko was in top form as Roma comfortably won 4-0 at promoted Benevento.
Dzeko scored twice, his presence led to two own goals, plus he hit both the post and crossbar.
Dzeko put Roma ahead with a tap-in midway through the first half following solid work on the flank and an accurate cross from Aleksandar Kolarov.
He then hit the post at the half-hour mark, before being in position to redirect a cross from Bruno Peres when defender Fabio Lucioni knocked the ball into his own net.
Shortly after the break, Dzeko — who led Serie A with 29 goals last season — scored his fifth of this campaign with a shot from just outside the area.
In the 74th, a cross from Kolarov was turned into Benevento's net by defender Lorenzo Venuti with Dzeko again well positioned to score.
Dzeko then hit the crossbar.
Benevento, which is making its top-division debut, is the only team in the league without a point. It's been a difficult stretch for the southern club, which was routed 6-0 by regional rival Napoli on Sunday.
AC Milan beat promoted Spal 2-0 with penalties from Ricardo Rodriguez and Frank Kessie.
Also, it was: Atalanta 5, Crotone 1; Cagliari 0, Sassuolo 1; Genoa 1, Chievo Verona 1; Hellas Verona 0, Sampdoria 0; and Udinese 2, Torino 3.
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Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asdampf