NAPLES: Victor Osimhen says Napoli are dreaming of Champions League glory after his brace shot the Serie A leaders to a 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt and into the quarter-finals for the first time in their history on Wednesday. Nigeria striker Osimhen struck either side of half-time to ensure no slip-ups in Naples and help his team secure a straightforward, and deserved, 5-0 aggregate win. Piotr Zielinski added Napoli’s third from the penalty spot on a perfect night for southern Italy’s biggest club, who Osimhen believes can go all the way.
“It’s amazing to make history with this win,” said Osimhen to Amazon Prime. “We will keep on dreaming, we have the squad to do so (win the Champions League). I think we are on the right path. We have a great coach. We will see what the future holds for us, I think we have a good chance.” Luciano Spalletti’s side are close to securing their first Serie A title in over three decades and an already remarkable season got even better with a place in Friday’s draw for the last eight of Europe’s top club competition.
They have been powered to an almost certain domestic triumph and a deep run in Europe by the red-hot Osimhen, who has now netted 23 times in all competitions for possibly the continent’s most exciting team. However Spalletti was less bullish about Napoli’s chances than Osimhen, replying with a curt “no” when asked if he was flattered by Pep Guardiola saying his side were the best in Europe. “It’s a game that people play to put pressure on other teams, it’s a game that everyone knows by now,” said an irritated Spalletti.
Eintracht were without suspended France forward Randal Kolo Muani following his sending off in the first leg and the Bundesliga outfit did very little to trouble Napoli. Oliver Glasner’s side head out of the competition on a night in which their fans were involved in serious disorder after travelling to Naples despite no tickets for away fans being put on sale. Eintracht had decided to not take up their ticket allocation for the match after Italian authorities produced two separate bans in a matter of days, fearing a repeat of the trouble in Frankfurt before the first leg.
That didn’t stop the German club’s hardcore fans however, who clashed with local police on a tense evening in Naples. Footage in Italian media from Tuesday also showed Napoli fans throwing objects at buses carrying Eintracht fans.
Around the stadium the atmosphere was less fraught as Napoli got through without any trouble. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia almost scored his second wonder goal in less than a week in the 19th minute after a brilliant tackle from Zielinski sent him charging towards goal. But he was forced wide just as he looked for a shooting chance and ended up being denied smartly by Kevin Trapp, who did well again two minutes before the break to denied the Georgian.
However Trapp could do nothing to stop Osimhen putting Napoli ahead moments later, the Nigeria international showing why he is one of the most highly-rated strikers in the world with a perfectly timed leap and header from Matteo Politano’s hanging cross. And Osimhen struck again seven minutes after the break with a simpler finish, this time tapping in Giovanni Di Lorenzo’s low cross after more good play from Politano and Kvaratskhelia.
Napoli were cruising and, after two half-chances for Eintracht’s Daichi Kamada and Rafael Borre and another good save from Trapp on Kvaratskhelia, they were three ahead on the night. The excellent Zielinski was brought down by Djibril Sow, allowing the Poland midfielder to dust himself down and calmly slot home a spot-kick in the 64th minute. All that was left was for the packed Stadio Maradona to shout ‘Ole’ at every pass as they watched their team make history. – AFP