Having already scored once on his birthday, apparently Dries Mertens decided that giving himself two gifts was even nicer, so he went and scored his 30th goal of the season against Cagliari in the second half.
It was a much more impressive goal than his first, scoring through traffic instead of just needing a simple tap-in, and was a strike fairly typical of many of the ones he’s tallied this season. It’s an impressive mark for a player like Mertens who, despite not being your typical striker by any means, has shone to such a degree in that role this season that he reached the 30 goal mark in all competitions, and to reach it on his 30th birthday is even sweeter.
The goal also provided Faouzi Ghoulam with his 10th assist of the season, a nice hallmark of his quiet but significant improvement in that area this season. His skill at providing in the final third was one of the biggest reasons that Napoli signed the Algerian three years ago, but we haven’t consistently seen him contribute to the team that way during his time in Naples. This season, though, he’s shone when asked to get forward, and it’s nice to see him get results like this as a result of that.