Osimhen helps, as Napoli continue title lead with Atalanta win
By Elegbede Abiodun
Serie A top-scorer, Victor Osimhen registered an assist as Napoli returned to winning ways with a resounding 2-0 victory over Atalanta at Naples.
The win extends Napoli’s lead at the top of the table to 18 points over closest challengers Inter Milan, to keep their quest for a first Serie A title triumph in 33 years alive with 12 league games left.
Luciano Spalleti’s side bounced back from last week’s loss to Lazio as second-half goals from Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Amir Rrahmani secured their 22nd league win of the season.
Napoli opened the scoring in the 60th minute and increased their lead before the 80th minute mark – after a relatively quiet first half in which Atalanta defended resolutely.
Serie A’s top scorer with 19 goals, Victor Osimhen showed prospects of increasing his tally when he twice came close to an opener after the break but saw a bicycle kick saved by Russo and a header fall inches wide of the far post.
The 24-year old Nigerian striker has been in stellar form this season and recently scored his 100th career goal in fine fashion and moderate number of appearances.
The lethal forward is currently one of the best strikers in the world with a plethora of European giants jostling for his signature.
Osimhen turned provider when he snatched the ball off the visitors to find his strike partner, Kvaratskhelia, who dribbled past the Atalanta defense before rifling a fine strike into the roof of the net.
Defender Rrahmani sealed the victory in the 77th minute when he nodded home an Eljif Elmas corner to increase Napoli’s lead and secure all three points for the Partenopei.
Meanwhile, Osimhen’s national team-mate and Atalanta’s top-scorer Ademola Lookman– who has also been in stellar form this season scoring 12 goals, was a surprise exclusion from Atalanta starting XI with Super Eagles of Nigeria coach Jose Peseiro watching on from the stands.
Atalanta manager Gian Piero Gasperini opted to start with Duvan Zapata and Rasmus Hojlund in attack ahead of Lookman who came on as a late substitute in the 89th minute when he replaced Rafael Toloi.
Atalanta are now sixth on the Serie A table and are winless in their last four games having lost four of their last six.