Victor Osimhen: First Serie A hat-trick leaves Nigeria forward hungry for more

Nigerian international Victor Osimhen is hoping to continue his goal-scoring form after scoring a hat-trick for Napoli in a 4-0 win over Sassuolo in Serie A.

The 23-year-old’s superb treble on Saturday helped Napoli extend their lead at the top of the table.

He scored twice in the first 19 minutes and equalized in his third with 13 minutes remaining to add seven league goals this season – and give him a share of first place in the Golden Shoe race with Austrian Marko Arnautovic.

“This was my first professional hat-trick so I’m really excited about it,” Osimhen told BBC Sport Africa.

“It’s been a great comeback after some challenges earlier in the season and I hope I can stay in shape.

“As a striker, you always want to help your team, so I want to stay hungry for more.”

Osimhen has spent more than a month out with a thigh injury but has scored six goals in his last four appearances in all competitions since his return.

He became the fifth African to score a hat-trick in Italian Serie A, after Liberia’s George Weah (for AC Milan in 1998), Cameroon’s Patrick Mboma (Cagliari in 1999), Egypt’s Mohamed Salah (AS Roma in 2016) and Keita Balde from Senegal (Lazio in 2017).

Former Wolfsburg and Charleroi striker Osimhen moved from Lille to Italy two years ago and after two “learning seasons” the Super Eagles star is leading Napoli’s pursuit of their first league title in 33 years old.

“Nobody knows everything. I keep growing and learning,” he added.

Napoli are back in action on Tuesday as they travel to Liverpool in their final Champions League Group A match (20:00 GMT). Both teams are already guaranteed a spot in the round of 16.

Beating Maradona’s records
With Osimhen in fine form, Luciano Spalletti’s Napoli built a five-point lead at the top of Serie A after 12 rounds.

The club’s current run of 13 straight wins in all competitions surpassed the previous record of 11 set by Diego Maradona’s side in 1986-87, the season in which the Argentine legend captained Napoli to their first league title.

“I would like to congratulate all my teammates. They are the best players and the entire squad is blessed with quality,” Osimhen told the club’s website.

“I would also like to thank the coach for the faith he has shown in me and I look forward to continuing that way, both individually and collectively.

“Every time I score, I dedicate my goal to my daughter. This hat-trick is for her.”

In June, Osimhen scored four goals in Nigeria’s 10-0 victory over Sao Tome and Principe in qualifying for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.

Winner of the U-17 World Cup with the West Africa team in 2015, he is the top scorer in the 2023 Nations Cup qualification with five goals.

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