23.01.2022 20:26 h

Insigne matches Maradona

Lorenzo Insigne joined Diego Maradona on 115 Napoli goals on Sunday with the fourth in a 4-1 thumping of rock-bottom Salernitana which kept his team on Inter Milan's coattails.

Insigne, who has played his entire senior career with his local team, smashed home from the penalty spot in the 53rd minute to move level with legend Maradona in the club's scoring charts.

The 30-year-old will move to Toronto FC in July after signing a lucrative four-year deal with the Major League Soccer side earlier this month, giving him one last season to emulate Maradona and win a league title with Napoli.

During his tumultuous time at Napoli, Maradona led the southern club to their only two championship crowns and the 1989 UEFA Cup.

"I wanted to take the penalty but I think it was an important moment for him," said Dries Mertens of Insigne.

"We'll miss him because he's been a player and a man who's been important for this club... He wants to finish here positively and we need to give him a proper goodbye."

His strike made absolutely sure of a win over regional rivals Salernitana, who were hit by Covid-19 cases, which moves Napoli second and keeps them four points behind league leaders Inter.

AC Milan can retake second place with a win over Juventus at the San Siro in the weekend's big match, later on Sunday evening.

But with the Milan derby straight after the coming international break Sunday's win was a platform to potentially close the gap on Inter when Serie A returns next month.

Insigne's penalty was his fifth goal of the Serie A campaign and the second spot-kick of the game after adopted Neapolitan Mertens had put Napoli ahead for the second time on the stroke of half-time with his club record-extending 144th goal.

Napoli weren't comfortable until Amir Rrahmani netted the third less than two minutes after the restart as Federico Bonazzoli had levelled Juan Jesus's 17th-minute opener.

Tammy Abraham was again on target as Roma won 4-2 at Empoli, the England international's brace the start of a first-half goal blitz which moved Jose Mourinho's team up to sixth, five points off the Champions League places.

Abraham, who also netted in Roma's Italian Cup win over Lecce midweek, lashed home the opener in the 24th minute in Tuscany and then nine minutes later poked home his 10th Serie A goal since arriving from Chelsea, which just crept across the line and was awarded to him after a lengthy check.

That strike was followed up by quick-fire strike from recent signing Sergio Oliveira and Nicolo Zaniolo which put Roma four goals to the good with 36 minutes on the clock.

Andrea Pinamonti pulled a goal back nine minutes after the break and when Nedim Bajrami's powerful strike was deflected past Rui Patricio Roma with 18 minutes remaining fans could have been forgiven for worrying about another embarrassing collapse.

However they held firm against a Empoli team who have bloodied some big noses since gaining promotion last season and sit 12th on 29 points.

Daniele Verde earned Spezia a huge win with the only goal in his team's victory over fellow relegation strugglers Sampdoria.

Verde volleyed home Kevin Agudelo's cross in the 69th minute on the Italian riviera to give Spezia their third win in a row and move them up to 14th, eight points from 18th-placed Cagliari who missed the chance to climb out of the drop zone after drawing 1-1 with 10-man Fiorentina.

Cagliari old boy Riccardo Sottil's leveller with 15 minutes left means the Sardinians stay in the bottom three, a point from safety. Fiorentina go sixth and seven points from the Champions League places.

In the afternoon's other match, Giacomo Raspadori snatched a 1-1 draw for Sassuolo at Torino with an 88th-minute leveller with his team's first shot on target.