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Napoli honour Maradona by blitzing Lazio to go top

Dazzling Napoli paid the perfect tribute to Diego Maradona yesterday morning (Singapore time) by thumping Lazio 4-0 to move three points clear at the top of Serie A.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino was among those present in Naples as the southern Italian city honoured one of its adopted sons, who led Napoli to their only two league titles and the 1989 Uefa Cup and died a year ago last Thursday.

Fans chanted Maradona's name as a statue, which depicts their idol in full flight atop the No. 10, was carried around the pitch.

A tribute from Pele was shown on the stadium's big screens, while players came out for their pre-match warm-up to the sound of "Life Is Life" by Opus, the song to which Maradona does keepie-uppies in one of the most beloved pieces of footage of the Argentinian in his pomp.

Inspired by the emotional ceremony, Napoli took full advantage of AC Milan crashing to a 3-1 home defeat by Sassuolo to go it alone at the summit with an at times electrifying performance.

"We put in one of our best performances, now the important thing is to always play like that, because you need to repeat those kinds of displays. The way we played today was perfect," Dries Mertens told DAZN, after scoring a superb double.

In almost perfect harmony with the occasion, it was another adopted Neapolitan in Mertens who led the charge, the Belgian nicknamed "Ciro" scoring a brilliant brace Maradona himself would have been proud.

Piotr Zielinski got the ball rolling in the seventh minute before Mertens took the roof off the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona when he ended a brilliant move by dumping Patric on the deck with a feint and slotting home a cool finish.

Mertens effectively sealed the win with more than an hour to play with another wonderful goal, clipping a first-time strike that sailed over a despairing Pepe Reina and increased his club-record goal tally to 139.

Fabian Ruiz then capped a perfect night on 85 minutes. - AFP