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Serie A: Napoli solidify hold on second, still 8 points back

Italy Soccer Serie A

Napoli’s Arkadiusz Milik celebrates after scoring a goal during the Italian Serie A soccer match between Atalanta and Napoli in Bergamo, Italy, 3 December 2018. (Paolo Magni/ANSA via AP)


ROME (AP) Napoli is not only Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne.

A 4-0 victory over promoted Frosinone on Saturday didn’t include any goals from the southern club’s standout strikers.

Arkadiusz Milik scored twice, Faouzi Ghoulam provided two assists in his first match in more than a year, and Piotr Zielinski and Adam Ounas also found the net.

With Mertens rested, the collective effort was the perfect warmup for a decisive visit to Liverpool in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The win also solidified Napoli’s hold on second place in Serie A. The Partenopei moved six points ahead of third-place Inter Milan, which lost 1-0 to leader Juventus on Friday. Juventus is eight points ahead of Napoli.

“This was a dangerous match, a classic trap that we could have fallen into, especially ahead of a Champions League game,” Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “Those who debuted or made their comebacks today should be applauded, as they knew how to wait, prepare and were ready when called upon.

“We can start thinking about Liverpool now, but we’ve got to try to remain calm and focused. We’re entering with the right mentality, the players are in good shape and a few even rested today.”

Goalkeeper Alex Meret, who was signed from Udinese in the offseason for 22 million euros ($25 million), made his Napoli debut. Signed to replace the departed Pepe Reina, Meret broke his arm in his second training session with Napoli.

While Meret was rarely tested, Zielinski put Napoli ahead early on from the edge of the area following a rebound of a shot from Insigne.

Ounas then doubled the advantage before the break with a long curling shot that was deflected slightly by a defender.

Milik headed in his first in the 68th and then beat the offside trap for another in the 84th.

Milik has scored seven goals in 13 matches, matching Mertens and Insigne for the squad lead.

Both of Milik’s goals were set up by Ghoulam, the fullback who had been out since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament last year against Manchester City.