By Alasdair Mackenzie
ROME (Reuters) - Dries Mertens scored his 99th and 100th Serie A goals for Napoli to secure a 2-0 win away to top-four rivals AS Roma on Sunday.
The 33-year-old Belgian striker curled in a free kick and nodded in a simple finish to put his side two goals in front after 34 minutes, and the hosts could not muster a response.
Mertens is only the third Napoli player to reach 100 goals in Serie A, after Marek Hamsik (100) and Antonio Vojak (102).
Lorenzo Pellegrini’s shot rattled the post for Roma in the second half but it was another disappointing big-game performance by Paulo Fonseca’s side, who have not won any of their matches against fellow top-seven sides this season, and the Roma coach was furious with his players' approach.
"We don't have the mentality to fight against these teams," he told Sky Italia.
"What I saw today was a team without courage, without mentality, which was then totally different in the second half.
"We wanted to play after the break and it was a different game. In the first half we were non-existent, we lacked bravery. When you're afraid of losing and playing, it's too difficult."
The win was important for fifth-placed Napoli as it lifted them up to 53 points, three ahead of Roma in sixth and two behind Juventus and Atalanta in third and fourth respectively.
It also extended a good run of form for Gennaro Gattuso's team, who are now unbeaten in five league matches, winning four.
The visitors started the stronger as Mertens fired a free kick into the top corner after 27 minutes.
The Belgian, who is Napoli’s all-time top scorer in all competitions, soon found his second from a team move as Lorenzo Insigne’s long pass behind the defence found Matteo Politano, who headed a pass across the penalty area for Mertens to nod in.
Roma’s best chances came through Pellegrini, who drew a good save from David Ospina before the break with a volley and curled a shot off the upright from the edge of the box in the second half.
But it was a second consecutive league defeat for the capital club, who suffered a shock 2-0 loss to relegation battlers Parma last weekend.
(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; editing by Clare Fallon and Toby Davis)