Dries Mertens, Jose Callejon, and Amin Younes made SPAL simpler for Napoli but it was a game that was unexpectedly rough. It took only four minutes to break through as Mertens skipped the ball on a Fabian Ruiz offside trap and dinked it delicately over the on-rushing Karol Leticia. It was initially flagged offside but VAR proved he had paced the sprint perfectly.
The Partenopei were brimming with optimism after their Coppa Italia victory and a 2-0 win over at Hellas Verona. Next week Diego Demme has been resting since becoming a father and Dries Mertens is back to starting XI. SPAL ‘s survival hopes have all but been wiped out by the last-gasp defeat of Cagliari, especially injured by Etrit Berisha, Ervin Zukanovic, and Federico Di Francesco.
It was an interesting game for Andrea Petagna, who already signed for Napoli in January. Fireworks were expected between these sides and they produced six goals in the second half, including a last-gasp Sassuolo equalizer after 3-1 down.
These were two of the surprise outfits from this season, known for their positive tactics and quality football, making this a head-to-head for European ambitions. The Neroverdi had fought back in San Siro to keep Inter 3-3 midweek, while Napoli had defeated Hellas to slip the standings down.
While Marlon came back from his suspension, the hosts were still injured by Filippo Romagna and Jeremy Toljan. Davide Faraoni has been substituted for Verona, with Fabio Borini and Valentin Eysseric on the operating table.
Luis Muriel came out of the bench bagging a stunning brace, as Atalanta challenged some shaky defense to beat Udinese and launch their impressive run.
If anything even stronger than before, La Dea had come back from the lockdown, blowing past Sassuolo and ending Lazio ‘s unbeaten 21-round run. Mario Pasalic ‘s ban had expired, but Josip Ilicic was not at risk at the start of XI yet.
Udinese is a big risk of relegation this season after a 1-0 defeat in Torino, which also saw Rolando Mandragora removed from a major knee injury. The suspension of Rodrigo De Paul has added to problems with coach Luca Gotti. Combined with two Musa Barrow and Riccardo Orsolini, they are giving away a precious 2-1 win to Bologna but they are plunging Sampdoria into relegation threat.