Napoli cruise to victory In the Champions League Last 16 first leg against Eintracht Frankfurt as Kvaratskhelia dazzles
Victor Osimhen again on the score sheet as Napoli cruise to a 2-0 victory
Napoli’s Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen scored again as the Serie A leaders defeated Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie on Tuesday.
Osimhen scored before the break, and Giovanni Di Lorenzo doubled their lead after the break ahead of the second leg on March 15 in southern Italy.
Frankfurt were reduced to ten men early in the second half after a vicious challenge from striker Randal Kolo Muani struck Napoli’s Frank Anguissa in the shin.
Soon after, the visitors doubled their lead when Khvicha Kvaratskhelia set up Giovanni Di Lorenzo with a superb back heel, putting Napoli on course for their first-ever Champions League quarter-final appearance.
After the game, Lozano told Sky Sports that Napoli “performed admirably against a formidable foe. It was difficult at first, but we played a fantastic game.”
Luciano Spalletti, manager of Napoli, told Sky Sports “We played well from the start, especially against a team that knows what to do tactically.
“It was a game from start to finish, which we crave and thrive in… There’s still the second leg to go – our biggest enemy is thinking it’s finished.”
Frankfurt started stronger, buoyed by a home crowd celebrating the club’s first foray into the Champions League knockout rounds, with in-form striker Randal Kolo Muani creating a goal chance out of nothing after four minutes.
The France forward chipped the ball over his head inside the Napoli penalty area, turning to fire just wide of the right upright.
The visitors’ quality began to emerge as the first half progressed, with the Serie A leaders dominating possession and field position.
After 34 minutes, Mexico winger Lozano hit the post with a rocket, but Frankfurt defender Aurelio Buta swept Osimhen’s legs out from under him while attempting to clear the ball inside the box.
Kvaratskhelia took the penalty, but despite hitting the ball well, Frankfurt keeper Kevin Trapp deflected the ball out for a corner.
Frankfurt’s relief, however, was short-lived, as Napoli scored three minutes later through Osimhen.
Stanislav Lobotka intercepted a tame pass from Mario Goetze and sent the ball vertically up the right flank to a sprinting Lozano deep inside Napoli’s own territory.
Lozano, who had been rested in Serie A the previous weekend, delivered a low cross goalwards, perfectly cutting a line between Trapp and the Frankfurt defence into the feet of Osimhen.
A minute later, the Nigerian striker appeared to have another when he converted another superb Lozano pass, but the goal was ruled out for offside.
Following the game, Frankfurt manager Oliver Glasner bemoaned the “little mistakes we made that Napoli exploited” to take a 1-0 lead into the second leg.
“We made a mistake on the halfway line, and Napoli had the speed and quality to take advantage of it,” Glasner explained.
“Then we showed our inexperience and nervousness, and the 2-0 result was to be expected after the red card.
“When you’ve only lost two games in eight months, you gain a lot of confidence and know what you’re doing.”
Frankfurt’s Mario Goetze said his team could still pull off an incredible comeback.
“They scored two goals at our place; why can’t we do the same? Everything is possible away from home, and we’ll do everything in our power to get there.”