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Osimhen back on target as Napoli beat Cagliari to go fourth

VICTOR Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia scored in the second half as Napoli eventually broke down Cagliari 2-1 at home in Serie A and moved provisionally up to fourth in the standings.

Champions Napoli, who have struggled at home this season having gained just one point in their previous four league games at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium, rose two places to fourth on 27 points from 16 games.

They are 11 points behind leaders Inter Milan and two above fifth-placed AS Roma, who visit Lazio and Bologna respectively on Sunday.

“It was a very important victory for us, we needed a restart,” coach Walter Mazzarri told DAZN.

“We had to get three points, otherwise a bad mechanism would have been triggered because the team that won the Scudetto, in a moment like this with several defeats at home… would have been put to the test.”

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Kickoff was delayed by 30 minutes due to strong winds which slowed the entry of fans in some sectors while officials checked the roof of the stadium for safety reasons, Italian media reported.

Napoli defender Amir Rrahmani hit the post with a header for the hosts’ closest chance of the first half just before the half-hour mark as Mazzarri’s side failed to benefit from their early domination, leaving the game level at halftime.

Osimhen headed Napoli in front in the 69th minute, with Cagliari keeper Simone Scuffet deflecting the ball onto the post only for it to bounce back into the net.

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The Nigeria striker, who was crowned African Footballer of the Year on Monday, has now scored seven goals in Serie A this season and could have had more were it not for a recent hamstring injury that sidelined him for more than a month.

Cagliari forward Leonardo Pavoletti briefly spoiled the fun for Napoli, equalising three minutes later from close range.

But Kvaratskhelia restored the home side’s lead with another goal that bounced in off the post after Osimhen teed him up 15 minutes from full-time.

Winger Matteo Politano thought he had made it 3-1 with a low shot from outside the box shortly after, but his goal was ruled out for offside.

Cagliari, who have beaten Napoli once in their previous 24 games in Serie A, are in 16th place on 13 points.

“The will and strength of my players is to save themselves,” said coach Claudio Ranieri, who in June helped Cagliari to get back into the top flight after a one-year absence.

“My work will be completed when I have saved this team.”

Cagliari have won three league games this season and are one point above the relegation zone.

By The African Mirror