Super Eagles striker Victor Osimhen could not salvage a win for Napoli against 10-man Cremonese in extra time of the round of 16 tie in the Coppa d’Italia Tuesday night at the Diego Maradona stadium in Naples.
The game had ended 2-2 in regulation time.
Cremonese then won 5-4 on penalties after Stanislav Lobotka missed his spot kick.
Both sides had an even game in the beginning of the contest but Napoli soon took charge of the proceedings.
The home side came off a 1-5 win over Juventus in their last match, but still have several games in hand, particularly against Salernitana on January 21 and AS Roma on January 29.
This was the 21st meeting between these two teams in all competitions with Cremonese hard pressed to claim the victory after a run of poor results.
Their best performance this season prior to Tuesday night’s Coppa Italia commitment was arguably against AC Milan just before the World Cup when they held the former European champions to a scoreless draw.
Nigerian striker, David Okereke started for the away side while Victor Osimhen who has scored 12 Serie A goals but none so far in the Coppa Italia started from the substitute bench.
Cremonese did not parade Cyreil Dessers for the entirety of the match.
Cremonese’s Charles Pickel put the visitors ahead in the 18th minute when he received the ball in the centre of the box after a breakaway down the left flank and scored from a swift counter.
Juan Jesus restored parity for Napoli in the 33rd minute after a number of rebounds in the opposition’s six-yard box.
Osimhen and his teammates screamed for joy just two minutes later as Giovanni Simeone headed in front of the goal.
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The decision to let the Napoli second goal stand infuriated former Nigeria youth international, Okereke, after his team’s goalkeeper appeared to be fouled, for the second time en route the goal.
Okereke was booked for his complaints while the players and officials were walking off the pitch for the halftime break.
Compatriot, Victor Osimhen tried to calm him down but he didn’t listen to the Super Eagles star either as he disappeared into the tunnel in anger.
In the 66th minute of the match, Daniel Ciofani replaced Okereke in one of three changes made by Cremonese.
One of the three Cremonese subs, Ghana’s Felix Afena-Gyan equalised for the side in the 87th minute with a towering header from a great cross.
There was a double yellow card for Cremonese’s Leonardo Sernicola who was consequently sent off.
Napoli manager, Giovanni Spalleti was not ready to give up the chance to win the game and introduced Osimhen in place of Tanguy Ndombélé in the 102nd minute into the extra time.
The in-form Nigerian almost scored with his first touch of the ball but his header was pushed out by the Cremonese goalkeeper while Giovanni Simone who pounced on the rebound saw a hot shot come off the frame of the post.
There was an injury scare for Osimhen when he went down under a challenge but stood up and apparently called on the referee for more protection.
Osimhen’s header in the 120th minute bounced agonizingly off target as the rains came down.
Osimhen scored from 12 yards in the penalty shootout but ultimately it ended 5-4 on the shootout for Cremonese.