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Osimhen-less Napoli crumble against Victor Moses’ Spartak Moscow

2:45 AM MYT 25/11/2021
Khalidou Koulibaly
Without the services of their Nigerian import, Luciano Spalletti’s Parthenopeans were silenced by the Russian Premier League outfit in Moscow

Napoli struggled without Victor Osimhen as they bowed 2-1 to Spartak Moscow in Wednesday’s Europa League encounter.

The Nigeria international was missing having suffered an injury against Inter Milan on Sunday – with the Naples-based outfit confirming he would be out of action for at least three months.

In his absence, the Russian Premier League side gained the upper hand with Aleksandr Sobolev’s first-half brace settling the keenly contest encounter at the Otkritie Arena.

Although Elif Elmas reduced the deficit for the Italians four minutes after the hour mark, but that could not prevent the Serie A giants from losing in Moscow.

Failing to win any of their last seven matches in all competitions, Rui Vitoria’s men welcomed the Italians with the ambition of ending their poor form.

It took them just three minutes to take the lead after Sobolev converted from the penalty spot following a foul from Stanislav Lobotka inside the box.

The duo of Elmas and Piotr Zielinski came close to restoring parity before the 25th minute, but goalkeeper Aleksandr Selikhov responded with massive one-handed saves on both occasions.

Sobolev completed his double in the 28th minute with a glancing header from Victor Moses’ cross – although goalkeeper Alex Meret should have done better.

Vitoria’s team went into the half-time break with a two-goal advantage while the visiting side rued several scoring opportunities they missed.

Napoli started the second half with a more aggressive approach and it took just five minutes for Giovanni Di Lorenzo to hit the back of the net. However, the goal was chalked off for offside.

Four minutes after the hour mark, the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona side pulled one goal back through Elmas in the 64th minute – when he headed home a cross from Andrea Petagna.

Despite several attacking forays, Luciano Spalletti’s Blues could not get the much-needed equaliser as they lost their second game in the tournament.

While Senegal’s Kalidou Koulibaly was in action from start to finish, Algeria's duo of Faouzi Ghoulam and Adam Ounas, as well as Cameroon's Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, played no role due to fitness concerns.

For the Russians, former Nigeria international Moses was handed a place in the starting XI but was substituted for Nikolay Rasskazov in the 83rd minute.

Napoli must defeat Leicester City in their last group game to ensure they qualify for the next round.