A “mourning” SSC Napoli on Sunday honored their club legend Diego Maradona with a 4-0 victory over AS Roma, while AC Milan extended their lead in Serie A by beating ACF Fiorentina.
In Naples, players took to the pitch wearing an Argentina-inspired jersey in tribute to Maradona, who died aged 60 on Wednesday last week.
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 great.
Fabian Ruiz added a second just after the hour mark, with club record goalscorer Dries Mertens and substitute Matteo Politano adding two more in the final 10 minutes.
“There is an air of sadness,” Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso said. “This is a wonderful city even when the weather is bad and yet there is an atmosphere of mourning.”
A minute’s silence had been observed before the game, as in all matches in Italy, in memory of Maradona, who spent seven years at Napoli.
A photograph of Maradona was projected onto giant screens in the 10th minute, as players stopped to applaud.
Napoli’s jersey with white and light blue vertical stripes was specially designed to remember Maradona, who led the club to their only Serie A titles in 1986-1987 and 1989-1990, as well as the UEFA Cup in 1988-1989.
“The city has done everything to honor him, the team, too. Diego will always remain,” Gattuso said. “He is a legend, who has done something important. Those who have been lucky enough to see it cannot forget it.”
Napoli overtake Roma to move fifth, with both teams six points behind leaders AC Milan, who pulled five points clear of city rivals Inter and US Sassuolo after seeing off Fiorentina 2-0.
Top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic watched from the stands after picking up a muscle injury the previous weekend and head coach Stefano Pioli was also absent recovering from COVID-19, but Milan still extended their unbeaten run in the league.
Franck Kessie set up Alessio Romagnoli for the opener on 17 minutes, with the Ivorian adding a second from the penalty spot 10 minutes later.
Fiorentina goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski then denied Kessie a second from the penalty spot after Martin Caceres fouled Theo Hernandez.
Pioli spoke to the team by videoconference after the game.
“Pioli congratulated everyone for winning this very important match,” Kessie said.
Milan have now gone 21 league matches without defeat since Serie A returned in June after a COVID-19 lockdown.
New Fiorentina coach Cesare Prandelli fell to his second defeat in as many games, with his side just three points above the relegation zone and without a goal in their past four games.
In Rome, SS Lazio’s players took to the pitch with special “AD10S” jerseys in honor of Maradona, but slumped to a 3-1 loss to Udinese, whose victory was paved by their Argentina players.
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 at the Stadio Olimpico in six years.
Rodrigo de Paul then set up fellow Argentine Ignacio Pussetto for the second just before halftime and provided the assist for another compatriot, Fernando Forestieri, midway through the second half.
Lazio looked weary after their 3-1 UEFA Champions League win over Zenit St Petersburg last week, but pulled a goal back through a Ciro Immobile penalty on 74 minutes.
The Romans are ninth.
“It’s a bad defeat, we need to reset as soon as possible,” Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi said.
Elsewhere, Cagliari were held 2-2 at home by Spezia, while Bologna edged Crotone 1-0.
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