Napoli only needed two goals to defeat Roma on Sunday night and it required the magic of Dries Mertens to earn them the victory.
The 33-year-old also made more history with the Partenopei by becoming the third man to score 100 Serie A goals for the club.
His former teammate Marek Hamsik also scored 100 goals in Italy’s top flight despite not playing as a natural forward, while you have to go back the 1930s to find the first. Antonio Vojak, an Italian forward of Croatian origin, scored 102 goals for the Ciucciarelli from 1929 to 1935.
Mertens already has the record for the most competitive goals for Napoli with 133 goals in 349 games and counting while the milestone reached against Roma should enhance his already glowing reputation in Naples.
Both goals against the Giallorossi were examples of his abilities to score aesthetically-pleasing goals.
His first goal was a delightful bending freekick. After his Napoli teammates created a fake wall, he took a shot, and the ball bent around Roma forward Stephan El Shaarawy into the far corner.
The second one was a fine team goal which would have been considered to be a regular occurrence in previous seasons. Lorenzo Insigne crossed the ball from the left-wing and found Matteo Politano, who headed the ball across goal. Mertens then headed the ball towards the goal, and despite Pau Lopez’s best efforts, he could not push the Belgian’s header out.
The 33-year-old was taken off by Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso after 66 minutes and replaced by Victor Osimhen but the veteran forward had made enough of an impact in the first half.
With that brace, Mertens took his tally to seven goals in 18 Serie A games for 2020/21. Ankle injuries have limited his playing time this season and he has not influenced matches as often as he did in the past but his performance against Roma showed that he still has the class.
The arrival of Osimhen at the start of the season perhaps should have signalled the end for Mertens, but contributions like this demonstrate that the diminutive Belgian can still turn matches around for Napoli.