Victor Osimhen scores Napoli double to deny Leicester Europa League win | European League
For a while, Leicester were on their way to a victorious exit from one of the toughest tests he is likely to face this season. European League. Ayoz Perez and Harvey Barnes gave them a two-goal lead over Napoli, their main opponents in Group C and joint favorites to win the tournament on the spot. But the distinguished visitors scored two goals from Premiere Victor Osimhen to take their share of points, which Napoli deserves least. Leicester’s frustration compounded when Wilfried Ndidi was sent off in injury time for a second bookable foul.
It wasn’t the tournament these clubs would have chosen to meet in, but since both of them were knocked out of the top four in the domestic leagues on the last day of last season, it was the best they could do. That could change if the Napoli president has what he wants – Aurelio De Laurentiis this week called for a “modern and profitable” renewal of football on the continent, involving smaller domestic competitions and a “European League with a democratic entry system” – but Italian side manager, Luciano Spalletti, described Duels with the likes of Leicester as “a bike we’ve always dreamed of riding”.
Brendan Rodgers made five changes to the squad that started on Saturday Defeated here by Manchester City But he was still able to handle a formidable squad, including Batson Dhaka and Bobakari Somare, both of whom made their first debut for the club since joining in the summer. Spalletti made four changes to the Napoli team, which achieved three victories from three Serie A matches this season, by defeating Juventus last weekend.
The visitors were quick to show their danger, as Victor Osimhen tested Kasper Schmeichel in the third minute with a powerful shot from outside the area. Lester wasted no time in responding. Perez, eager to redeem himself after he was Ejected against West Ham In his last appearance, he broke through to the right side of the penalty area and showed impressive power to fend off Kalidou Koulibaly before feeding Dhaka, who assisted Barnes in the back corner. David Ospina withdrew from his line to turn his shot away from six yards.
The pace was exhilarating and Leicester intended to see if Napoli could keep up. The visitors failed in the ninth minute, when Barnes hit the left wing and crossed to the right, with Perez arriving to drive a side ball into the net from 10 yards despite Ospina’s attempt to clear it. Local fans stormed into the God Save the Queen chorus, as if the Spaniard’s goal somehow avenged England’s loss to Italy in the Euro 2020 final.
Lorenzo Insigne, the winner of that match, tried to nullify Perez’s goal in the 13th minute but failed to save his free kick from the edge of the area under the crossbar. Then Osimhen did the same after beating Jonny Evans with a delicious nutmeg.
Osimhen embarrassed Evans again in the 28th minute, bypassing him before attacking Kevin Malcuit, who fired from 16 yards. Napoli’s shot was wrong but their passing and movement caused a lot of problems. Osimhen quickly tormented the other centre-back, blocking Yannick Westergaard as he stormed right and past Peter Zielinsky, whose shot was shot from close range by Timothy Castagne. With Insigne leading twice before the break and Schmeichel hitting a dangerous header from Hirving Lozano, Leicester were grateful for the first-half arrival with a healthy lead.
Rodgers, realizing the need to stop the flow, made two substitutions in the second period. But Napoli increased their dominance and Leicester struggled to get out of their own half in the first part of the second half. Dhaka and Kelechi Iheanacho pushed hard off the ball but rarely spent any time with her – until just before the hour when the Zambian curled into the net after clever action by Iheanacho and Yuri Tillmans. The hosts erupted in glee and relief, only for the VAR review to rule that Dhaka was partly offside.
But Leicester had a taste for goals again. Five minutes later they had one no one else could dodge, Barnes blasted a low shot from the left into the far corner after Iheanacho opened up Napoli’s defence.
Leicester wasn’t safe yet, especially since Osimhen was still on the hunt. The striker brought Napoli back into the competition by putting the ball over a hurried Schmeichel after brilliant play by Insigne and Fabian Ruiz. And it was no surprise that the Nigerian was responsible for the latest turn, either. When Matteo Politano circled in an attractive cross from the right, Osimhen jumped over Caglar Soyuncu and nodded at the net from five yards.