FRANKFURT: Napoli’s Nigeria striker Victor Osimhen got on the scoresheet again as the Serie A leaders beat Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 in their Champions League last 16, first leg on Tuesday.
Osimhen scored before the break as Giovanni Di Lorenzo doubled their lead after the interval before the second leg in southern Italy on March 15.
Frankfurt were reduced to ten men early in the second half after a nasty challenge from striker Randal Kolo Muani found the shin of Napoli’s Frank Anguissa.
The visitors doubled their lead soon afterwards when Khvicha Kvaratskhelia set up Giovanni Di Lorenzo with a superb back heel, putting Napoli on course for what would be their first ever Champions League quarter final appearance.
Lozano told Sky Sport after the game that Napoli “did well against a strong side. It was tough at first, but we had a great game.”
Napoli manager Luciano Spalletti told Sky “we did well from the start, especially against a team that tactically know what to do.
“It was an end-to-end game, which we want and thrive in… There’s still the second leg – our biggest enemy is to think it’s done.”
Buoyed on by a home crowd celebrating the club’s first venture into the Champions League knockout rounds, Frankfurt started stronger, with in-form striker Randal Kolo Muani creating a goal chance out of nothing after four minutes.
With his back to goal inside the Napoli penalty area, the France forward chipped the ball over his head, turning to fire just wide of the right upright.
As the opening half wore on the visitors’ quality began to show, with the runaway Serie A leaders dominating possession and field position.
Mexico winger Lozano unleashed a rocket which hit the post after 34 minutes, but Frankfurt defender Aurelio Buta swept Osimhen’s legs out from under him while trying to clear the ball inside the box.
Kvaratskhelia stepped up to take the penalty but despite hitting the shot well, Frankfurt keeper Kevin Trapp leapt to his left to deflect the ball out for a corner.
Frankfurt’s relief was short lived however, with Napoli scoring the opener just three minutes later through Osimhen.
The move started deep inside Napoli’s own territory, when Stanislav Lobotka intercepted a tame pass from Mario Goetze and sent the ball vertically up the right flank to a sprinting Lozano.
Lozano, back in the starting XI after being rested in Serie A on the weekend, pummelled a low cross goalwards, perfectly cutting a line between Trapp and the Frankfurt defence into the feet for Osimhen to score.
The Nigerian striker looked to have another just a minute later when he converted another superb Lozano pass, but the goal was ruled out for offside.
After the game, Frankfurt manager Oliver Glasner lamented the “little mistakes we made that Napoli used” to take a lead into the second leg.
“We made a mistake on the halfway line and Napoli had the speed and the quality to use it,“ Glasner said.
“Then we showed our inexperience and our nervousness — and after the red card, the 2-0 result is to be expected.
“If you’ve only lost two games in the past eight months, you get a lot of self confidence and you know what you’re doing.”
Frankfurt’s Mario Goetze said he still believed his side could pull off a remarkable comeback.
“They scored two goals here at our home, why can’t we do that there? Everything is possible away from home and we’ll do everything so that we can make it.” – AFP