Mertens back to help Napoli beat Bologna and go top again

Inter Milan's players celebrate after Spal's Francesco Vicari scored an own goal during a Serie A soccer match between Spal and Inter Milan, at the Paolo Mazza Stadium in Ferrara, northern Italy, Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018. (Serena Campanini/ANSA via AP)

MILAN (AP) Dries Mertens is back in form and at the perfect time for Napoli as the Serie A title race heats up.

Mertens scored twice, including a stunning second-half strike, to help Napoli come back to beat Bologna 3-1 on Sunday and move back top of the league.

It took Mertens’ tally to 13 Serie A goals but the Belgium international hadn’t scored in the league since October before breaking his drought last week.

Napoli moved a point above Juventus, which won 2-0 at Chievo Verona on Saturday. Third-placed Lazio is 11 points behind Napoli and plays at AC Milan later, shortly before Roma hosts Sampdoria.

There was more misery for Inter Milan as it was held to a 1-1 draw at relegation-threatened Spal.

After Juve’s somewhat fortunate victory against nine-man Chievo, Napoli knew it needed to win to move back into top spot.

However, it got off to the worst possible start as Rodrigo Palacio headed in Federico Di Francesco’s cross after just 22 seconds.

But Bologna’s lead lasted just four minutes. Following a short corner, Mario Rui crossed in from the left and Palacio deflected it off the crossbar before Ibrahima M’Baye accidentally turned it into his own net.

Napoli turned the match around shortly before halftime with a somewhat soft penalty. Mertens converted after Adam Masina was adjudged to have pulled back Jose Callejon.

Mertens sealed the match in the 59th, racing down the left and cutting inside the area before curling a delightful effort into the far top corner.