Napoli beats Sassuolo 3-1 to move 3 points clear in Serie A

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Napoli beats Sassuolo 3-1 to move 3 points clear in Serie A
Napoli beats Sassuolo 3-1 to move 3 points clear in Serie A

MILAN (AP) – Napoli reinforced its title credentials by beating Sassuolo 3-1 to move three points clear in Serie A on Sunday.

Goals from Allan, Jose Callejon and Dries Mertens helped Napoli to its 10th win in 11 matches. Diego Falcinelli had leveled for Sassuolo and both sides hit the woodwork twice.

Juventus and Lazio, which earlier won 5-1 at Benevento, are tied for second. Inter Milan is two points further back and visits Hellas Verona on Monday.

Juventus beat AC Milan 2-0 Saturday.

Napoli struggled in the opening stages but soon took control of the match and even had the luxury of substituting three of its key players ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League match at home to Manchester City.

Maurizio Sarri had only one win over Sassuolo as Napoli coach, having drawn both matches last season and losing on his debut in August 2015.

Sassuolo almost took an early lead as Stefano Sensi fired a free kick off the crossbar from a tight angle.

Sensi was at fault for the opening goal in the 22nd minute as he gave away the ball on the edge of his penalty area and Allan pounced to fire it past Andrea Consigli.

Napoli almost doubled its lead minutes later but Faouzi Ghoulam’s volley came off the left post.

Sassuolo leveled four minutes from halftime when Falcinelli headed Matteo Politano’s cross from the right in at the near post.

However, Napoli restored its advantage in unusual fashion just before halftime as Callejon’s corner from the left squirmed in past Consigli.

Mertens has started this season the way he ended his last, netting his 10th league goal of the campaign nine minutes into the second half. Raul Albiol headed a cross back across goal for the Belgium international to tap in.

Sassuolo has not scored more than one goal in any league match this season but thought it had a penalty shortly after the hour. The referee changed his decision after video review revealed Vlad Chiriches’s foul on Falcinelli had been just outside the area.

The visitors hit the woodwork for the second time moments later when Francesco Cassata’s header came off the left post.

Napoli almost got another goal late on but Piotr Zielinski’s effort hit both posts before landing in the arms of Consigli.

Napoli’s Dries Mertens, right, kicks the ball during the Serie A soccer match between Napoli and Sassuolo, at the San Paolo stadium in Naples, Italy, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017. (Ciro Fusco/ANSA via AP)
Napoli’s Allan celebrates after scoring during the Serie A soccer match between Napoli and Sassuolo, at the San Paolo stadium in Naples, Italy, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017. (Ciro Fusco/ANSA via AP)
Napoli’s Jose’ Callejon, right, kicks the ball as Sassuolo goalkeeper Andrea Consigli goes for it, during the Serie A soccer match between Napoli and Sassuolo, at the San Paolo stadium in Naples, Italy, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017. (Ciro Fusco/ANSA via AP)
Napoli’s Marek Hamsik, 2nd right, kicks the ball during the Serie A soccer match between Napoli and Sassuolo, at the San Paolo stadium in Naples, Italy, Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017. (Ciro Fusco/ANSA via AP)
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