Milan: A brace by Belgian international Dries Mertens helped Napoli to an unconvincing 3-2 win over relegated Cesena but still saw them close to within three points of Lazio and remain in the hunt for a Champions League spot on Monday. Napoli surprisingly went behind on the quarter-hour when Frenchman Gregoire Defrel beat ‘keeper Mariano Andujar to score the first of a brace of goals at the San Paolo.
But the hosts replied in style, Mertens levelling from close range following a defensive mix-up and Manolo Gabbiadini pulling the hosts in front only two minutes later. Napoli’s enterprise in attack, however, was not matched in defence and in the dying seconds of the opening half Defrel was left unmarked to fire home his second after a cutback from the right wing that went through Mertens’ legs and evaded the entire Napoli defence.
Cesena coach Domenico Di Carlo suggested Defrel is unlikely to remain long with the club, already relegated to Serie ‘B’.“He’s a crucial player, he’s quick, technical and has a great eye for goal,” said Di Carlo.
“He can play anywhere up front and he still has plenty of room for improvement. With us, he’s improved a lot, but now he’s ready for a bigger club,” he added. The hosts lifted their game after the break and should have pulled in front only for Mertens to flash an angled drive just wide of Federico Agliardi’s post.