Outstanding Osimhen lifts Napoli to Cagliari victory


Victor Osimhen of SSC Napoli celebrates after scoring their team's first goal during the Serie A TIM match between SSC Napoli and Cagliari Calcio at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona on December 16, 2023 in Naples, Italy.

Freshly crowned African player of the year Victor Osimhen has once again underlined his value to Italian champions Napoli.

Having already scored with a towering header between two defenders, Osimhen went on to provide a stunning assist for Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s 75th-minute winner as Napoli beat Claudio Ranieri’s Cagliari 2-1 in Serie A.

The 24-year-old Nigeria international controlled a pass with his right foot and flicked the ball onto his chest before bouncing it three times off his right thigh and onto his head.

Appearing to lose control at that point, Osimhen instead muscled his way past three defenders to cross to the unmarked Kvaratskhelia, who pounded the ball in off the near post.

All three goals came within six frantic second-half minutes, Leonardo Pavoletti equalising for Cagliari shortly after Osimhen’s 69th-minute opener.

“We did everything we could but when you go up against champions like Osimhen and Kvara they can decide the match in an instant,” Ranieri said.

Ending a four-match winless streak at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in the league, Napoli moved up to fourth place, 11 points behind leaders Inter Milan.

Osimhen was instrumental during Napoli’s title run last season, scoring a league-leading 26 goals.

Slowed by injury this season, he has only six to his credit so far and will miss a big chunk of the season when he joins Nigeria’s squad for the Africa Cup of Nations in January.

The effort for the assist appeared to leave Osimhen with an injured groin and he came off a few minutes later.

Ylber Ramadani scored an 89th-minute winner as Lecce got their first win since September, beating Frosinone 2-1 in a matchup of promoted teams.

Ramadani’s long-distance effort – his first goal in the top flight – took a deflection to decide the match at Stadio Via del Mare.

Roberto Piccoli had put hosts Lecce ahead early before Kaio Jorge equalised for Frosinone with a penalty after half-an-hour.

Torino beat Empoli 1-0 with a first-half strike from Duvan Zapata to move up to ninth spot in Serie A.

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