ROME (AP) – Too bad for most football fans that Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia will not be at the World Cup in Qatar.
Napoli’s forwards have been two of the most exciting players in Europe this season.
When he’s healthy – which isn’t often – Osimhen is as much of a goal threat as almost anyone. Kvaratskhelia, meanwhile, is a dribbling wizard who can set up goals, score for himself, and generally put spectators on the edge of their seats every time he touches the ball.
Osimhen scored a hat-trick and Kvaratskhelia scored one and assisted two in Serie A leaders Napoli’s 4-0 win over Sassuolo, extending the club’s record with their 13th consecutive win in all competitions.
“I just want to keep the momentum going and help my team,” Osimhen said. “This season, the coach (Luciano Spalletti) has given me as much confidence as possible.”
Osimhen devoted all his goals to his daughter.
“Every time I score, I think of her,” Osimhen said. “She is my life now.”
Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia will not be at the World Cup in three weeks because Osimhen’s Nigeria and Kvaratskhelia’s Georgia did not qualify.
Nigeria is missing its first World Cup since 2006, while Georgia, which started playing independently only in the 1990s after the breakup of the Soviet Union, has never qualified for football’s biggest event.
However, that is good for Napoli, who will be happy to get their two best players extra rest during the World Cup.
Along with star-studded Paris Saint-Germain and 14-time European champions Real Madrid, Napoli were among the only clubs in Europe’s top five leagues to remain undefeated.
Napoli’s last victory came on a day when the team celebrated the birthday of the great Diego Maradona, who would have turned 62 on Sunday. Maradona, who died in 2020, led Napoli to their only two Serie A titles in 1987 and 1990.
One more title finally appears within reach of the southern club.
Napoli extended their lead to six points ahead of reigning champions AC Milan, who visit Torino on Sunday.
Osimhen opened the scoring in the fourth minute at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, using two touches to redirect a cross that was deflected by Kvaratskhelia to the far post.
A quarter of an hour later, Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia were back when “Kvara” pulled back a quick pass from the back line directly to Osimhen, who shot from the edge of the six-yard area in a move that looked like billiards.
Kvaratskhelia took matters into his own hands for Napoli’s third, producing an acrobatic control of a ball over Mário Rui before slamming in a swift shot.
After some important saves by Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret, Osimhen added another goal after the break as he passed Andrea Consigli to finish off a counterattack.
Osimhen – who has missed five weeks of the season through injury – has seven goals in eight matches to lead Serie A alongside Bologna’s Marko Arnautović.
Next up is a visit to Liverpool on Tuesday as Napoli will look to complete a perfect Champions League group stage after winning their first five games emphatically – including a 4-1 home win over Liverpool.