October 3, 2023

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Victor Osimhen scored first-half goals as Napoli opened an 18-point lead in Serie A with a 2-0 win at Sassuolo on Friday.

Giovanni Simeone, the son of Atlético Madrid coach Diego Simeone, thought he’d made it 3-0 in injury time but his goal was ruled out for offside.

Simeone had come on late for Osimhen as Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti made his five substitutions presumably with Tuesday’s visit to Eintracht Frankfurt in mind.

His team had shown no sign of conserving any energy for the Champions League clash.

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Kvaratskhelia got the visitors off to a great start in the 12th minute when he won the ball in the center circle and tore off toward goal, skipping over a challenge and then finding the space to shoot through a defender’s legs and inside the left post.

Armand Laurienté struck the post in response for Sassuolo before Osimhen took over. The Nigeria striker scored a hat trick in Napoli’s 4-0 win over Sassuolo in October and seemed keen to repeat the feat.

Osimhen hit the left post in the 27th, then scored in the 33rd, when he squeezed the ball inside the near post from a narrow angle despite facing two defenders.

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Osimhen almost made it 3-0 minutes later when he headed just wide from Kvaratskhelia’s cross.

Laurienté replied with a fine finish for Sassuolo, but the goal was ruled out after a VAR check as teammate Gregoire Defrel was offside when he impeded Napoli defender Mathias Olivera.

Osimhen could have scored again after the break. He had an uncharacteristically poor touch with only goalkeeper Andrea Consigli to beat, then Consigli pulled off a good save as the visitors kept pushing forward.

Osimhen had to be content with one goal. He now has nine in his last seven league matches and 18 in Serie A this season.

Second-place Inter Milan hosts Udinese on Saturday.

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