Leicester City were denied one of the club’s most famous European wins as Victor Osimhen’s brilliant brace earned Napoli a 2-2 draw at a pulsating King Power Stadium on Thursday evening.
Brendan Rodgers sprung a few surprises with his team selection, leaving Jamie Vardy, Youri Tielemans and James Maddison on the bench. But the Leicester boss appeared vindicated when his side took the lead early on through a Ayoze Perez volley from Harvey Barnes’ floated cross.
Napoli slowly took control of the game throughout and increasingly one-sided first-half. And the chances continued to flow for the visitors after the break despite Rodgers taking steps to change things by introducing Tielemans and Caglar Soyuncu.
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The goal when it came went Leicester’s way. Just moments after Patson Daka’s effort on the counter-attack disallowed for a narrow offside, Harvey Barnes stepped onto his left at the end of a sharp break to dispatch a second goal past the Napoli keeper.
But a cute finish by Osimhen after a flowing move from Napoli pulled the Italians back into the game with 21 minutes remaining.
And a brilliant towering header by the 22-year-old forward earned the visitors the point that they deserved on the balance of play.
Talking Point – Are Leicester at their best against the best?
Leicester City seem to come alive against the very top opposition. Rodgers side are good against a lot of opponents. But they are at their very best when they sit slightly back and look to use the space that the top teams leave on the counter-attack. And that was on display again in this game, particularly in a second half that saw the Foxes play some delightful football in transition through midfield.
It’s certainly not a bad thing for a team to be better against the best. It helped Leicester in the FA Cup final. And again in the Community Shield. And again tonight. Here’s hoping for more of the big European nights ahead for Rodgers and his boys.
Perez puts Leicester 1-0 up
Image credit: Getty Images
Man of the Match - Victor Osimhen (Napoli)
The Nigerian was a constant threat for Leicester and should have probably scored in the first-half after doing everything right except provide the finish in a lively individual display.
But the finishes came after the break. He hung in the air for the equaliser, a Ronaldo-esque header. Yet it was his first goal that really stood out, as he lobbed the covering defender and then goalkeeper with consecutive touches.
Osimhen’s talent was well known when Napoli smashed their transfer record for him a little over a year ago. But this sort of display showed why they were willing to spend so much. What a player he could become.
Leicester XI: Schmeichel 8, Castagne 7, Evans 6, Vestergaard 6, Bertrand 6, Soumaré 7, Ndidi 6, Pérez 6, Barnes 7, Daka 6, Iheanacho 7. Subs: Tielemans 7, Soyuncu 6, Lookman 6, Maddison 6, Vardy 6
Napoli XI: Ospina 8, Malcuit 6, Rrahmani 6, Koulibaly 7, Di Lorenzo 6, Fabián 6, Anguissa 7, Lozano 6, Zielinski 6, Insigne 8, Osimhen 9. Subs: Politano 5, Elmas 6, Ounas 6, Petagna 6, Jesus 6
9’ GOAL! – Leicester have the lead! The Foxes break at pace again and Barnes dinks a beautiful deep cross to pick out the run of Perez, who volleys a low finish home. 1-0!
38’ – Leicester survive, somehow! It’s brilliant again from Osimhen, who cuts it back for Zielinski. But Castagne makes a brilliant intervention and Schmeichel reacts to stop the deflection going in. Wonderful defending from the pair of them.
44’ – The chances are flowing with alarming regularity now for Napoli, from a Leicester point of view. Only a Schmeichel double save denies them on this occasion, with Lozano’s close range header straight at the Foxes stopper and then Ruiz seeing his follow-up from the edge of the box saved.
Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City) - SSC Neapel
Image credit: Getty Images
60’ NO GOAL! – Leicester think they’ve snaffled a second! Tielemans dinks the ball on to Daka just inside the box and he turns to hit it low and hard first time through the keeper. VAR checks for a very tight offside, and after an agonising wait the goal is chalked off.
64’ GOAL! – There’s no doubt about this one. Just seconds after Napoli make a double change Leicester take advantage of a sloppy pass and Iheanacho feeds Barnes, who takes it onto his left and slams a shot into the far corner. 2-0!
69’ GOAL! – Game on! Napoli pull one back in exquisite fashion. A lovely one-touch move is expertly finished by Osimhen, who dinks a sublime finish over the onrushing Schmeichel. 2-1!
87’ GOAL! – Heartbreak for Leicester as Osimhen produces a peach of a header for his second goal of the game. 2-2!
93’ RED! – It's a second yellow for Ndidi and he will now miss the next game in this competition. Both fouls looked like bookings in truth, although it's a shame for the midfielder, who had been outstanding tonight.
Stats and Facts
- This was the ninth game in which Ayoze Perez has scored for Leicester and the first that they have not gone on to win in that run.
- Harvey Barnes is now level with Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez as Leicester’s top goalscorer in European competition. The trio have scored four apiece.
- Osimhen’s goals were his first in European competition for Napoli, coming at the fourth attempt.
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