Victor Osimhen scored on his first Napoli start since November to help his team to a 2-0 win at Venezia on Sunday which moves them one point behind Serie A leaders Inter Milan.
Nigeria striker Osimhen had made two brief substitute appearances since fracturing bones in his face in a sickening head clash at Inter, and rewarded coach Luciano Spalletti’s decision to pick him by leaping to head Napoli ahead just before the hour mark at the Stadio Pier Luigi Penzo.
Andrea Petagna sealed the points in the 100th minute of a match extended due a clash of heads between the referee and Venezia’s Tyronne Ebuehi, as well as that same player’s late red card for a dreadful foul on Dries Mertens.
“I prepared well for this game, had a good week and was ready to kick on from the first minute,” Osimhen told DAZN.
“And of course to start with a goal, I’m really happy about this performance from the whole squad.”
Wearing a special face mask he described as a “good look for me”, Osimhen’s sixth Serie A goal of the season – his first since mid-October – fired Napoli right back into a three-way league title tussle.
Napoli are second, level on 52 points with AC Milan who broke open the race for the Scudetto as Olivier Giroud’s derby double saw off Inter on Saturday.
Like Milan, Napoli have played a game more than Inter but they host the champions next weekend before travelling to Barcelona for the first leg of their Europa League play-off with the Catalan giants.
“We have a lot of objectives this season and the Scudetto is one of them, so step by step and with determination, I think we’ll get there,” added Osimhen.
Osimhen could have had another as he struck the post in the first half but Napoli had to battle their way past Venezia, who are in the relegation zone following the defeat and Cagliari’s 2-1 win at 10-man Atalanta earlier on Sunday. (AFP)