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SERIE A

Masked marksman, Osimhen comes off bench to help Napoli win 4-0 at Lecce

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Victor Osimhen celebrates after scoring during the Serie A soccer match between Lecce and Napoli at the Via del Mare stadium in Lecce, Italy, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023. AP

Victor Osimhen came off the bench to help Napoli win 4-0 at Lecce in Serie A on Saturday as the defending champions notched four goals for the second straight match.

 

Osimhen, who had been angered by the club following a social media post this week, doubled Napoli’s lead early in the second half. Leo Østigård, Gianluca Gaetano and Matteo Politano also got on the scoresheet.

Napoli moved a point behind league leader Inter Milan and AC Milan, which were playing against Salernitana and Lazio, respectively, later.

It was a second straight defeat for Lecce, which was unbeaten before Tuesday’s 1-0 loss at Juventus and had won its previous four home matches.

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Napoli had ended a three-match winless run with a 4-1 win over Udinese midweek but coach Rudi Garcia opted to rest Osimhen on Saturday ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League match against Real Madrid.

Napoli took the lead in the 16th minute when Piotr Zieliński floated a free kick from the left to the back post and Østigård headed it into the top corner for his first Serie A goal.

Garcia brought on Osimhen at halftime and the forward had an instant impact as he found the back of the net just six minutes later. Much of the credit has to go to Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, who cut in from the left and lifted a perfect ball onto the head of Osimhen at the back post.

It was Osimhen’s fifth goal in seven league matches this season. The 24-year-old was the top goalscorer in Serie A last season.

Gabriel Strefezza thought he had got Lecce back into the match seven minutes later but his effort was ruled out following a handball by Nikola Krstović in the buildup.

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Gaetano was brought on for his season debut with seven minutes remaining and he scored shortly afterward with a strike from the edge of the area.

He also won a penalty after being tripped by Ylber Ramadani. Politano, who had been given the ball by Osimhen, struck it into the bottom left corner.

-AP

 

 

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

SERIE A

Ademola Lookman wins Atalanta’s ‘Player of The Season Award

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Nigeria’s Super Eagles winger and silver medal winner with the country at the last AFCON 2023 tournament in Cote D’Ivoire, Ademola Lookman, has emerged as the Atalanta Player of the Season.

The pint-size forward has won the converted award Back-to-back with the Bergamo-based side after his exploit in the domestic and European matches for the side.

Atalanta qualified for two finals with the Nigerian International playing an active role in the campaign.

He was instrumental to Atalanta winning the UEFA Europa League beating Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 in the final with the Nigerian scoring all the goals.

The club announced on its official website on Thursday saying, “It’s him again, Ademola Lookman! The reigning champion defends his title and is crowned straight-a student for the second year in a row after staving off an unsparing competition, to the point of both bringing the contest to an overtime runoff and stepping the pose down up to the Instagram profile after the regular session ended in a tie. Kudos to Mola for his back-to-back Player of the Season!” it noted.
It went further that,” building on his 17 goals and 11 key passes in all competitions (making him the team’s second-best seasonal scorer and wingman) and with the hat-trick scored in the magical Dublin final as his main leg-up, Lookman tips the ItalianOptic branded crown once again,” the web remarked.

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Aside from Ademola, the second and third-best positions were also announced as the midfield duo of Jose dos Santo Éderson and Teun Koopmeiners.

The Nigerian had a brilliant AFCON experience with Nigeria where he scored three goals and his exploits so far have put him in strong contention to win the next ‘African Footballer of the Year’ award which will come up before the end of the year at a venue yet to be announced by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen is the reigning winner of the award alongside Asissat Oshoola who retained the version.

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SERIE A

Napoli reduces Victor Osimhen’s value

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Former Serie A champions Napoli are reportedly ready to drop their asking price for Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen as his future grows ever more uncertain.

The 25-year-old is looking for a move away from Serie A but Napoli’s initial €150M release clause has warned off any potential suitors.

Quoting from another Italian outlet, Calciomercato, Getfootballnewsitaly reports that Napoli are ready to lower the initial valuation to €100M, in the hope that they can free up much needed transfer funds for new boss Antonio Conte, who is understood to be desperate to land Belgian international striker Romelu Lukaku this summer.

It is also stated that the English Premier League sides, Chelsea who were understood to be in pole-position to sign the Nigerian international, has never opened any negotiation with the 2023 Serie A champions.

The only avenues open at this time seem to be the Saudi Pro-League, where a reported salary of €40M a season has been offered, or Paris Saint-Germain, with Osimhen not keen on either option, preferring a move to the English Premier League.

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SERIE A

Osimhen’s Napoli European hopes end with 0-0 draw against Lecce

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If Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen remains in Napoli in the next season, he will not have any action in UEFA competitions.

Napoli lost their slim chances to participate in European competitions next season when they were held to a 0-0 home draw by Lecce in their last Serie A game of the campaign on Sunday.

Last season’s champions Napoli finished 10th on 53 points, level with ninth-placed Torino who were beaten 3-0 at Atalanta in a simultaneous kick off on Sunday.

Despite their loss, Torino can now still earn a Europa Conference League playoffs spot if eighth-placed Fiorentina, who have a game in hand, win the Europa Conference League.

Fiorentina face Greece’s Olympiacos for the title on Wednesday.

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Napoli needed a win to maintain their European hopes but despite 24 shots, five of them on target, they ended their disappointing campaign winless in their last seven games.

Substitute Cyril Ngonge had a good chance to give Napoli the lead just after the break but his shot from the edge of the box was saved by Lecce goalkeeper Wladimiro Falcone.

Jens Cajuste hit the far post with a low strike shortly before Ngonge hit the bar in the 64th minute.

Europa League winners Atalanta, meanwhile, secured at least fourth spot after Gianluca Scamacca, Ademola Lookman and Mario Pasalic were all on target in a 3-0 win against Torino.

They sit fourth on 69 points but can still leapfrog third-placed Juventus, on 71 points, if they beat Fiorentina in their last remaining game next Sunday.

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-Reuters

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