By Cyrus Bengo
A towering header and a stunning assist from Victor Osimhen propelled Napoli back to winning ways in Serie A on Saturday as they secured a 2-1 win over Cagliari at the Stadio Maradona.
Coach Walter Mazzari kept faith in his Nigerian striker to lead the line once more and it proved to be the ideal decision as the 24-year-old helped deliver on the three points badly coveted by Napoli.
The kick-off for Saturday’s tie was delayed 30 minutes due to strong winds that damaged the roof, casting a sombre mood under the black armbands worn for former captain Antonio Juliano.
But Osimhen’s early efforts, twice denied by Scuffet, hinted at a Napoli resurgence.
Despite missing key players like Zielinski and Elmas, the Partenopei pressed on.
Hard as Osimhen and his Napoli pressed, the deadlock persisted.
Second half The second half saw Napoli’s dominance rewarded. Mario Rui, returning from injury, whipped in a perfect cross for Osimhen’s powerful header, which the Cagliari goalkeeper parried onto the post only to watch it bounce back in.
As highlighted by Opta, Osimhen is the only Napoli player to score in each of his first four Serie A matches against two different teams, in the three-points per-win era (since 1994/95).
Victor Osimhen is the only Napoli player to score in each of his first four Serie A matches against two different teams, in the three points per win era (since 1994/95): Cagliari and Sampdoria (between 2021 and 2023).
Napoli’s joy was short-lived, as substitute Luvumbo’s cross found Pavoletti unmarked in the box, his experience securing Cagliari’s equaliser.
But Osimhen wasn’t done. The new African Player-of-the-Year drew six defenders, juggled the ball with his chest and knee, and somehow found Kvaratskhelia free at the far post for a clinical finish.