Napoli are Victor Osimhen and Victor Osimhen is Napoli, now more than ever. The Nigerian striker had a devastating impact on Saturday afternoon’s game at the Diego Maradona Stadium as he helped the Partenopei come from behind and overcome Udinese’s resistance with a killer brace.
Osimhen’s heroics pulled Luciano Spalletti’s side out of a tricky situation after Gerard Deulofeu had put the Bianconeri ahead in the first half, confirming that Andrea Cioffi’s squad is one of the most in-form sides in the whole Serie A.
Thanks to today’s win – the second in a row for the Partenopei – Spalletti reached out Milan at the top of the Serie A table as they wait for the Rossoneri to face Cagliari later on today.
Deulofeu Scores in Maradona’s Temple
Udinese confirmed to be living a state of grace as they took the lead on 22 minutes with a clinical Deulofeu shot that beat David Ospina.The 28-year-old thus became the first man wearing a number 10 jersey to score at the Maradona Stadium since Napoli’s home turf was named after El Diez.
Napoli had had a better start with an aggressive approach but were caught by surprise by the Spaniard’s sudden winning effort. Their defense staggered and Ospina had to go above and beyond to keep his side afloat with a super save from a Pablo Mari header, punching the ball away from the top right corner.
As the first half approached its end, however, the Partenopei came close to draw level with a Lorenzo Insigne right-foot curl. Goalkeeper Marco Silvestri was up to the task and defused the challenge with the tip of his fingers.
Then, on 40 minutes, André-Frank Zambo Anguissa served Fabian Ruiz the chance for a shot but Silvestri pulled off another tricky save despite being wrong-footed by a deflection.
Osimhen Brace Turns the Match Upside Down
Luciano Spalletti sent Dries Mertens in right after the restart, replacing Fabian Ruiz and switching to a 4-2-3-1 setup. The Belgian added more vivacity to the Partenopei lineup but it was Osimhen to basically turn the match upside down and in favor of the home side.
With 51 minutes on the clock, Osimhen headed the ball home from a Mario Rui set piece, besting his marker Destiny Udogie on the occasion. The Nigerian’s effort switched the momentum in the Partenopei‘s favor as Mertens’ volley from a tight angle missed the target by a few inches.
Udinese had a short-lived reaction with a Deulofeu shot that crashed into Ospina’s punches but the time was soon ready for Napoli’s second. The Partenopei found it once again with their talisman Osimhen, who found himself in the right place to receive the ball from Giovanni Di Lorenzo and put it past Silvestri with a natural-born striker touch.
The big Nigerian was on fire – perhaps too much, as he eventually earned a yellow card that will force him to miss Napoli’s next game. Only an offside call denied Osimhen the third goal, while Silvestri continued to save what he could and blocked another shot from Mertens from outside the box.
When Udinese’s center back Pablo Mari saw red for a tackle on Piotr Zielinski with eight minutes to go, the match was over – even though Silvestri had to save again from Mario Rui to prevent the score from becoming heavier for the Friulani.
What’s Next for Napoli and Udinese
Napoli are temporarily at the top of the table, a position they share with Milan who will play at Cagliari tonight. They will travel to Bergamo to face Atalanta next week but will have to do it without Osimhen.
Udinese came home empty handed for the first time in five weeks but coach Cioffi has more than one reason to be happy about the Bianconeri‘s performance. The Friulani will welcome Cagliari at the Dacia Arena on April 3.
March 19, 2021 – Serie A 2021-2022 Round 30
NAPOLI – UDINESE 2-1
SCORERS: 22′ Deulofeu (U), 52′ Osimhen (N), 63′ Osimhen (N)
|NAPOLI (4-3-3): Ospina; Di Lorenzo (78′ Zanoli), Rrahmani, Koulibaly, Mario Rui; Anguissa, Lobotka, Fabian Ruiz (46′ Mertens); Politano (70′ Zielinski), Osimhen, Insigne (88′ Elmas (Marfella, Idasiak, Tuanzebe, Malcuit, Juan Jesus, Ghoulam, Demme, Lozano) Coach: Spalletti
|UDINESE (3-5-2): Silvestri; Becao, Pablo Mari, Zeegelaar; Molina (76′ Soppy), Pereyra (88′ Jajalo), Walace, Makengo (76′ Samardzic), Udogie; Deulofeu, Beto (68′ Pussetto) (Padelli, Gasparini, Benkovic, Arslan, Nestorovski) Coach: Cioffi
REFEREE: Mr. Fourneau from Rome
NOTES: Yellow Cards: ; Red Card: Pablo Mari (U); Added Time: 1st Half: 1′, 2nd Half: 6′