Napoli keep on climbing table with 4-0 win at Lecce

October 1, 2023 4:28 am

[Source: Reuters]

Serie A champions Napoli continued their revival with a resounding 4-0 win at Lecce, moving provisionally up to third place after Victor Osimhen came off the bench to score in the second half.

With one eye on their Champions League game against Real Madrid on Tuesday, Napoli manager Rudi Garcia left Osimhen out of the starting line-up but the Nigerian striker wasted no time once he replaced Giovanni Simeone for the second half.

After a loose ball from Lecce allowed Osimhen to gain possession in his own half, his pass sent Khvicha Kvaratskhelia down the left wing before the Georgian cut in and his perfect cross was headed home by Osimhen in the 51st minute.

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“Osimhen did not play as a starter but he came in freshly, he scored an important goal for us, the second,” Garcia told DAZN after the game.

Osimhen’s agent threatened legal action against Napoli after a video mocking the player was posted and then deleted from the Serie A side’s official TikTok on Tuesday, but the striker has not let the controversy hinder his performances.

He scored on Wednesday in the 4-1 win over Udinese, and his fifth goal of the season at Lecce gives Napoli their second consecutive victory after three games without a win had threatened to derail their title defence.

Osimhen, last year’s golden boot winner in Serie A, now joins Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez as this season’s leading scorer.

The visitors took the lead in the 16th minute when defender Leo Ostigard scored his first Serie A goal, with a header from a Piotr Zielinski free kick.

“I’m glad it came on a lateral free kick, my staff worked well. And I’m glad that Ostigard did it, who has the soul of the collective from day one,” the Napoli manager said.

Lecce, who had gone undefeated in their first five league games before a 1-0 defeat at Juventus on Tuesday, threatened to level the game in the first half, but Napoli proved too strong after the break once Osimhen doubled their lead.

Gianluca Gaetano replaced Zielinski seven minutes from time to make his first appearance of the season and netted Napoli’s third goal five minutes later. His shot from distance ended any faint hope of a Lecce comeback.

There was still time, however, for Napoli to make it 4-0 with a penalty deep into added time when Gaetano was dragged down in the box by Lecce’s Ylber Ramadani. Matteo Politano scored from the spot to finish the game in style.

“A well-managed game,” Garcia said, “Not conceding goals is a good thing. We don’t know what others will do and it doesn’t even matter, the important thing was to win.”

The sides began the game level in the table on 11 points, but Napoli have moved ahead of Juventus for now, to put pressure on leaders Inter and AC Milan who play Salernitana and Lazio respectively later on Saturday.