A brace from Victor Osimhen helped Napoli come back from behind to seal a crucial 2-1 victory over Udinese at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
Udinese took a shock lead after 22 minutes, as Gerard Deulofeu found the bottom left corner of the net with a fantastic effort from the edge of the area, after a neat through pass by Roberto Pereyra.
The Partenopei’s best opening in the first half came courtesy of Lorenzo Insigne, with his curled effort from the edge of the area going narrowly wide of the far post.
Luciano Spalletti shuffled the pack at half-time as he brought on Dries Mertens and switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation, and it paid off as his side were level within ten minutes of the restart courtesy of Osimhen, with the Nigerian heading in at the back post following a free-kick routine.
The turnaround was complete just ten minutes later, as Osimhen scored an easy tap-in from inside the area following a low cross from the byline by an overlapping Giovanni Di Lorenzo.
The result leaves Napoli level on points with AC Milan at the top of Serie A, having played a game more than their title challengers.
TALKING POINT – NAPOLI TURN IT ON IN THE SECOND HALF
Finding themselves 1-0 down at the break proved to be the catalyst that Napoli needed to spark into life, as they played like a different team early on in the second half of the game.
A part of that was in no doubt down to Spalletti’s change to a 4-2-3-1 formation, to create more overloads in Udinese’s third of the pitch. A lot of attacking impetus was found on the wings, as Insigne regularly cut inside from the left, with Di Lorenzo providing an overlap option down the right-hand side. That tactic paid dividends, as the full-back contributed with an assist.
The urgency of Napoli’s play forced Udinese deep, with the visitors unable to get out of their half for large parts of the second half.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – VICTOR OSIMHEN
The Nigerian striker proved to be the match winner for his side, as his 11-minute brace early in the second half turned the game around for Napoli in dramatic fashion.
The clinical nature of his finishing was a sight to behold, and it must have been terrifying for the Udinese defence whenever they saw he was in their penalty area.
His two strikes mean that the 23-year-old has four in his last two games, and Spalletti will be hoping that one of his key man will keep delivering as Napoli continue to challenge for the title.
Napoli: Ospina 7, Di Lorenzo 7, Rrahmani 6, Koulibaly 7, Rui 7, Anguissa 7, Lobotka 6, Ruiz 6, Politano 6, Osimhen 8*, Insigne 7. Subs: Zanoli 6, Zielinski 6, Elmas 6, Mertens 6.
Udinese: Silvestri 7, Zeegalaar 6, Mari 5, Becao 6, Udogie 6, Makengo 6, Walace 6, Pereyra 6, Molina 6, Beto 6, Deulofeu 7. Subs: Samardzic 6, Soppy 6, Jajalo 6, Pussetto.
22’ – GOAL! – (Gerard Deulofeu) – The visitors have a shock lead! It is Gerard Deulofeu! The forward finishes well from the edge of the box into the bottom left corner of the net after being played in by Roberto Pereyra, leaving David Ospina with no chance. Great goal!
29’ – KEY SAVE! – Great goalkeeping from Ospina to keep the score at 1-0! Deulofeu delivers in the corner towards the far post, and Pereyra gets his head on it, but the Napoli stopper tips the effort over his crossbar!
52’ – GOAL! (Victor Osimhen) – The Nigerian forward rises highest at the far post to nod in from a free-kick delivery! Napoli are back on level terms and that’s exactly the way they wanted to start the second half!
62’ – GOAL! (Victor Osimhen) – It is Victor Osimhen again! He has his brace! Politano advances down the right flank, before laying off to an overlapping Di Lorenzo. He crosses low from the byline, and Osimhen does extremely well to finish beyond Silvestri first-time from inside the penalty area! Udinese are behind!
82’ – STRAIGHT RED! – Pablo Mari is sent off for a high foot on Zielinski! The Udinese defender catches him flush on the hip, but it is a very harsh call to hand him a straight red. Gabriele Cioffi is furious on the touchline.