Serie A: Mertens scores late to rescue Napoli against Roma
MILAN (AP) Dries Mertens can’t stop scoring for club and country and was disappointed to be dropped to the bench for Napoli’s game against Roma on Sunday.
The Belgium international gave the perfect response with a last-minute equalizer to rescue a 1-1 draw. It was Mertens’ fourth goal in as many matches for club and country.
“I would have preferred to start from the beginning especially in a match like this. This is a really eagerly awaited match here at Napoli and I was disappointed, it’s a shame,” Mertens said.
Napoli remained second but is now six points behind leader Juventus, which is chasing a record-extending eighth Serie A title.
Inter Milan can move level on points with Napoli if it wins at fourth-placed Lazio on Monday.
“It’s a shame we didn’t win because it would have been important to pick up the three points,” a visibly dejected Mertens said. “There was a good reaction after we went behind, but we need to do more.”
Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti has rotated his squad significantly more than predecessor Maurizio Sarri and he did so again following the midweek draw against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.
“If I put someone on the bench and he’s happy, I would get angry. I’ll talk to him (Mertens),” Ancelotti said.
Napoli dominated but it was Roma which took the lead in the 14th minute. Cengiz Under pulled the ball back and Edin Dzeko couldn’t control it but it came through to Stephan El Shaarawy, who fired in off the inside of the left post.
Despite having the best chances, Napoli almost found itself 2-0 down 10 minutes from halftime but defender Raul Albiol headed Dzeko’s effort off the line after the Roma forward had rounded goalkeeper David Ospina.
There was a blow for Roma shortly before the break as it lost captain Daniele De Rossi to injury.
Napoli continued to attack after the break and Jose Callejon hit the post, while it also had two goals ruled out for offside late on.
Just as it seemed as if Roma would leave with all three points, Napoli leveled in the final minute. A cross was miskicked by Callejon but came to Mertens, who fired in for his third goal in as many matches.
A stunning strike from Suso saw AC Milan put a miserable week behind it to beat Sampdoria 3-2.
The Spain forward struck shortly after the hour mark, racing down the right and cutting in before curling the ball into the far bottom corner.
Sampdoria had the meanest defense in the league, having let in just four goals in its previous nine matches but it conceded three against Milan.
Patrick Cutrone scored Milan’s opener - which was set up by Suso - and assisted the other for Gonzalo Higuain. Former Milan midfielder Riccardo Saponara also had a goal and an assist for Sampdoria.
Milan came into the game after back-to-back defeats against Inter Milan in Serie A and Real Betis in the Europa League, and was languishing in the second half of the standings.