Despite losing Lorenzo Insigne to a left thigh injury, Napoli defeated Genoa 6-0 on Sunday evening and forwards Hirving Lozano and Dries Mertens provided the inspiration in attack in the absence of their captain.
Although the Partenopei were already 1-0 up when the 29-year-old came off the pitch after 21 minutes, not many people would have expected them to have destroyed the Grifone like they did in the second half.
New signing Victor Osimhen wasted a few chances but the diminutive forwards Lozano and Mertens developed a great understanding on the pitch.
The Mexican winger scored the winner for Napoli when they travelled to Genoa in August. This time, he scored twice against the Rossoblu thanks to two assists from the Belgian veteran, and he probably should have had a hat-trick after running onto another fine pass from the 33-year-old but he placed his shot wide.
Lozano has scored just six goals in his Serie A career so far, and half of those have come against Il Vecchio Balordo, scoring three in as many games. His brace also made him the first Mexican to score a double in one of Europe’s Top Five leagues since Raul Jimemez did it for Wolverhampton Wanderers against Southampton in the English Premier League in January.
Mertens scored the third goal of the match and it was his fifth goal against Genoa in a league game. Sunday night’s fixture was also the first game since Napoli’s 4-1 victory against Inter in May 2019 in which the Partenopei forward provided a goal and an assist, and after scoring in the opening round against Parma, this is the first Serie A season in which Mertens has scored in the first two rounds.
As impressive as Lozano and Mertens were, attacking midfielder Piotr Zielinski also played his part in the rout. He scored Napoli’s second goal early in the second half and also assisted the Belgian for the Ciucciarelli’s third.
Three of the Polish international’s last four goals have come at the Stadio San Paolo and Genoa are one of his preferred opponents to score against, finding the back of the net three times, with AC Milan being the club he has scored the most against with four.
Napoli tactician Gennaro Gattuso has often been portrayed as a conservative coach, but with attacking weapons like these, it was more ideal to utilise their strengths and they scored freely.
A NIGHTMARE RESULT FOR THE ROSSOBLU
It was a humiliating defeat for Genoa on a night in which the Grifone made history for the wrong reasons.
Not only did Il Vecchio Balordo concede six goals in a Serie A match for the first time since December 2011, which coincidentally was a 6-1 defeat away to Napoli, they also lost a league game by more than six goals for the first time since March 1965.
Juventus thrashed them 7-0 in Round 24 of the 1964/65 campaign and Genoa were eventually relegated that season, finishing one point behind city rivals Sampdoria.
The Grifone have now conceded at least one goal in their last seven away matches in Serie A, a streak that they haven’t had since February 2019.
Genoa had registered an impressive 4-1 victory in the opening round of the 2020-21 season against newly-promoted Crotone but this result is arguably a better indicator of their level in this campaign.