Mertens fires Napoli to Italian Cup final, Inter Milan edged out

Mertens: books Juventus date for Napoli

Dries Mertens fired Napoli to the Italian Cup final on Saturday after netting the goal which gave his side a 2-1 aggregate semi-final win over Inter Milan.

The goal, his 122nd, also made him the club’s all-time top scorer.

Napoli will now face Juventus in Wednesday’s final at Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

Belgian Mertens, slotted home the vital goal for Napoli four minutes before half-time to make the score 1-1 on the night.

The scoreline gave them overall victory after a 1-0 first-leg win at the San Siro in February.

Christian Eriksen had levelled the tie for Inter straight from a corner in the second minute and the away side continued to dominate the first half.

But Mertens ended a lightning counter-attack to put the hosts through at the Stadio San Paolo.

“We wanted the final at all costs and we achieved that. Now we need to recuperate and be ready for the final in a few days,” said Lorenzo Insigne, who set up Merten’s winner.

Mertens, 33, overtakes Marek Hamsik and moves seven clear of Diego Maradona, who scored 115 goals in all competitions and won two Serie A titles and the UEFA Cup over his seven tumultuous years in southern Italy.

There were no fans in the stands at the San Paolo.

But public broadcaster RAI reported that a small number of Napoli supporters that had gathered outside the San Paolo set off fireworks throughout half-time in celebration of Merten’s goal and after the match.

Mertens moved to Napoli from PSV Eindhoven in 2013 and has become so settled in Naples that fans have nicknamed him ‘Ciro’, a hugely common Neapolitan name.

Sporting director Christian Giuntoli said pre-match that both club and player want to extend his contract, set to expire at the end of the month.

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