Napoli reclaimed top spot in Serie A on Sunday maintaining their unbeaten record with a 3-1 win at Sassuolo to retain their three-point cushion on Juventus and Lazio.
Ahead of hosting Manchester City in Champions League midweek, Napoli responded to Juventus’s 2-0 win at AC Milan on Saturday.
Maurizio Sarri’s side have 31 points from 11 games, although undefeated Inter Milan could close the gap to two points at Verona on Monday.
But the Napoli coach was far from happy with his side for allowing Diego Falcinelli to equalise for Sassuolo on 41 minutes after Brazilian Allan had opened the scoring on 22 minutes.
“When we dominate, we get lazy and it gets us into these situations. Against all logic, it looked as if we’d go into the break on 1-1,” said Sarri.
Jose Callejon restored Napoli’s advantage just before half-time direct from a curling corner kick before in-form Belgian Dries Mertens completed the scoring after 54 minutes.
“The total dominance makes us lose our sense of danger and that is an aspect that we’ve got to shake off,” warned Sarri.
“The top of the table is very tight, as Napoli and Inter are unbeaten, while Lazio and Juventus lost only once.
“I don’t think these sides will keep that kind of tempo up for the rest of the season, and that goes for us too. It looks as if the Scudetto will be won with over 90 points.”
He added: “The only thing we must believe in is Wednesday’s game against Manchester City. We know it’ll be very tough, but our minds must only focus on that. The season has only just begun.”
– Immobile inspires –
Lazio joined the leading group earlier Sunday with a 5-1 win at Benevento who slumped to an 11th defeat in as many games.
Benevento’s first top-flight season has been a nightmare with the arrival of new coach Roberto De Zerbi this week doing little to improve the fortunes of the club from outside Naples with a witch on their crest.
No other European club in a major league have had a worse start to the season — apart from Manchester United, relegated after the 1930-1931 season after losing their first 12 matches.
Lazio are riding high despite the controversy which overshadowed the previous week when their fans posted photos of Anne Frank in a jersey of hated rivals Roma in the Stadio Olympico.
Ciro Immobile gave an inspirational performance again for Lazio — who claimed a sixth straight Serie A win — as he scored after 13 minutes and set up three goals.
“I’m happy with the three assists, as my teammates tell me I never pass the ball and only ever want to score, so they can’t complain now,” said Immobile, the leading scorer in Italy with 14 goals in 11 matches.
Bastos opened after four minutes for Lazio with Adam Marusic also on target with the visitors leading 3-0 at the break.
Moroccan Achraf Lazaar pulled one back for Benevento in the second half — just their fourth goal of the season — but Lazio added another two through Marco Parolo and Nani, who scored his first goal since arriving in Rome this summer.
On Saturday, Gonzalo Higuain scored a brace to bring his tally of Serie A goals to 101 with a 2-0 win that plunged AC Milan further into crisis on front of a capacity 80,000 crowd at the San Siro.
Vincenzo Montella’s Milan are eighth, 15 points behind the leaders, and far below their objective of Champions League football next season.
Roma took all three points at Bologna thanks to an exquisite Stephan El Shaarawy volley to stay fifth, just ahead of Sampdoria who beat Chievo 4-1, as Crotone shocked Fiorentina 2-1.