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Dries Mertens gives Napoli crucial early Champions League lead

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He made a very difficult goal look very, very easy.

SSC Napoli v Espanyol - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

Napoli needed an early goal against OGC Nice in their Champions League playoff tie, and that’s exactly what they got, with who else but Dries Mertens scoring in spectacular fashion in the 13th minute.

That goal looks very easy, but it’s anything but. The ball over the top from Lorenzo Insigne is gorgeous, putting it into a perfect position for Mertens to run onto. He controlled it mid-bounce to poke it past the goalkeeper, then finished across his body and against his momentum to lob it into goal past two onrushing defenders. It’s a tremendously difficult bit of play that Mertens made routine, otherwise known as the kind of thing he’s been doing ever since he was moved to center forward last season.

Mertens and the rest of Napoli’s attack have been dominating a Nice defense that are relying on numbers more than quality, and this looks like it could easily turn into a rout if this run of play keeps up. Hopefully Napoli can keep this pressure on and take advantage, because they need to make this count in a big way.