Dries Mertens matched Diego Maradona with his 81st Serie A goal for Napoli and Carlo Ancelotti’s squad bounced back from a run of poor results for a 2-0 win at relegation-threatened Frosinone on Sunday.
Mertens scored the opener with a perfectly executed free kick around Frosinone’s wall into the near top corner.
Mertens and Maradona are tied for third on the club list of Serie A scorers behind 1930s star Antonio Vojak (102 goals) and recently departed captain Marek Hamsik (100).
“The great thing about Mertens is that he always gives his all, even if he plays poorly,” Ancelotti said. “I really like his attitude. … He deserves to match Maradona.”
Amin Younes doubled the lead after the break, dribbling by two defenders before sending an angled shot into the far corner.
Napoli also hit the woodwork twice in only its second league win of its last five matches. The southern club was also recently eliminated from the Europa League quarterfinals by Arsenal.
Napoli is firmly second, 18 points behind Italian champion Juventus and eight ahead of third-place Inter Milan with four rounds remaining.
Frosinone is last but one.
AC Milan’s hopes of qualifying for the Champions League diminished further after a 2-0 loss at Torino.
Milan has won only one of its last eight matches in all competitions. It has slipped to level on points with Torino and Atalanta, which hosts Udinese on Monday, and two points behind fourth-place Roma, which occupies the final Champions League qualifying berth.
Andrea Belotti converted a penalty in the 58th minute after Franck Kessie had fouled Armando Izzo, and Alejandro Berenguer all but sealed the result before Milan captain Alessio Romagnoli was sent off for dissent nine minutes from time.
Lazio is three points behind Roma after it survived a scare to beat 10-man Sampdoria 2-1.
Felipe Caicedo scored an early double and Lazio seemed certain to extend its lead when Sampdoria midfielder Gaston Ramirez was sent off on the stroke of halftime following what appeared a harsh second booking.
But Fabio Quagliarella scored his 23rd league goal of the season in the 57th to reopen the match. The 36-year-old Quagliarella leads the goalscoring charts, two ahead of AC Milan’s Krzysztof Piatek and Atalanta’s Duvan Zapata, with Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo a goal further back.
Spal and Genoa each moved toward safety with a 1-1 draw. Gianluca Lapadula’s acrobatic volley for Genoa canceled out Felipe’s opener.
Already relegated Chievo Verona earned points for the second straight week with a 1-1 draw against Parma.
Matar reported from Milan.