Nigeria international and Africa’s all-time most expensive player, Victor Osimhen, on Sunday, made his debut in a competitive game for Napoli.
The Italian club defeated Parma 2-0 away at the Ennio Tardini Stadium courtesy of goals from Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne.
The goals came shortly after Osimhen – who started on the bench – was brought on in the 61st minute for his debut.
Osimhen signed from Lille in the summer. The 21-year-old sealed a big-money move worth up to €80m from Lille during the summer to become the Partenopei’s most expensive signing in history.
Three minutes after he was introduced into the game, Hirving Lozano crossed the ball into the area and Parma defender Simone Iacoponi headed his attempted clearance straight to the feet of Mertens who fired past Luigi Sepe from 15 metres.
Insigne struck the post from Oshimhen’s flick before Parma gifted Napoli a second goal.
Lozano intercepted a pass out of the Parma defence, his shot was saved by Sepe but Insigne snapped up the rebound in the 77th minute.
Osimhen had an opportunity to score his first goal for Napoli not long after but his effort was wide off target.
The Super Eagles’ forward’s time on the pitch saw him have two shots off target, five accurate passes from five (100%), four key passes and two clearances.
Sunday’s victory represents a fine start for Napoli who will be looking to be back in contention for the Serie A title after finishing seventh last season.
The club is playing in Europe by virtue of winning the Coppa Italia after beating Juventus on penalties in June.
Napoli take on Genoa at the San Paolo next Sunday.
Mane, Salah Caged As Own Goal Gifts Liverpool Win At Ajax
beat Ajax Amsterdam 1-0 away with a fortunate own goal in their UEFA Champions League group stage opener on Wednesday.
They rode their luck at times but still showed their title credentials.
Ajax full-back Nicolas Tagliafico turned the ball into his own net in the 35th minute to ensure a winning start in Group D for the English champions.
Liverpool looked the stronger of the two teams in spite of Ajax creating several good chances at the Johan Cruyff Arena.
Davy Klaassen struck the post with a powerful shot and Quincy Promes had a point-blank effort stopped by the legs of Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian.
This went on as the Dutch club created a handful of excellent opportunities.
Yet Liverpool, who won their sixth UEFA Champions League title in 2019, still proved value for their victory.
They dominated possession and counter-attacked at pace while keeping a clean sheet in spite of missing defensive talisman Virgil van Dijk, who suffered a serious knee injury at the weekend.
Fabinho moved from midfield to central defence to replace Van Dijk and had an outstanding game, notably hooking a clearance off the line to deny Dusan Tadic just before half-time.
It was one of several chances for Ajax in the first half.
Lisandro Martinez had a header saved by Adrian and Ryan Gravenberch shot narrowly wide, much to the annoyance of Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp.
Klopp spent the early part of the game berating and shouting instructions to his players.
But his agitation was quelled when Sadio Mane turned the Ajax defence with a swift body movement to set up the goal.
He miskicked his own effort, but it caught Tagliafico as he clumsily tried to clear and instead deflected it into the Ajax net.
“It was a good enough performance to win the game, which at moments was pretty wild.
“It was not one of our sunny shiny world class football days. It was not perfect but the boys fought like crazy,” said a more satisfied Liverpool manager afterwards.
Klopp took off Mane and his strike partners Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah with 30 minutes still left.
But replacements Diogo Jota and Takumi Minamino kept up the pressure on the home team.
Ajax should have equalised, however, four minutes into stoppage time when Adrian did not properly deal with a cross into the area.
But substitute Jurgen Ekkelenkamp missed the target.
Egypt’s Hassan Stoppage Time Header Gives Olympiakos 1-0 Win Over Marseille
A stoppage-time goal by late substitute Ahmed Hassan gave Olympiakos a 1-0 win over 1993 European Cup winner Olympique Marseille in their Champions League Group C match in Piraeus on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old Egyptian, also known as Koka, came off the bench to make a significant impact for Pedro Martins’ men at Karaiskakis Stadium.
The Greek champions held the initiative for most of the match at Giorgos Karaiskakis stadium and had a goal disallowed by video review earlier in the second half before Hassan finally delivered a powerful header to beat goalkeeper Steve Mandanda after Mathieu Valbuena’s cross.
“This is a special night for me. It’s my first game in the Champions League and I scored a goal,” Hassan said after the match.
“It is five years ago to the day that I lost my father so I dedicate this game to him. I am very happy but am also filled with emotion.”
Marseille defender Jordan Amavi said the French club were not aggressive enough in the game.
“We weren’t aggressive enough. I think that was key for us,” Marseille defender Jordan Amavi said.
“We woke up in the game too late. We did have chances. But in the end, we didn’t do enough to create anything concrete.”
Ghana International Goalkeeper Richard Ofori Joins Orlando Pirates on 3-Year Deal
Orlando Pirates have announced the signing of Ghanaian international goalkeeper Richard Ofori from Maritzburg United.
The highly-rated keeper had signed a one-year contract extension in January but Pirates have finally managed to pry him loose from the KwaZulu-Natal side ending many months of rumours as well as links to champions Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs.
“After many months of speculation wherein Orlando Pirates were linked to a wide assortment of talented shot-stoppers‚ most notably Maritzburg United’s Richard Ofori‚ the club can finally confirm the signing of the Ghanaian international‚” Pirates’ statement read.
“The 26-year-old has signed with the Buccaneers after agreeing terms to a three-year deal.
“… Ofori joined Maritzburg United in 2018 and went on to record 64 appearances in all competitions including nine for the Ghanaian national team.
Ofori was quoted as saying: “I am very happy to be here. It is a dream for me to be a part of this exciting squad and to work with the technical team.
“I also look forward to meeting my new teammates and being part of this exciting new project.”
Ofori will compete for a starting position between the posts with first choice Wayne Sandilands as well Siyabonga Mpontshane. He arrives at Pirates a week after French goalkeeper Joris Delle also left the club after struggling to command a starting place.
“It feels so good [signing for Pirates] because they are like one of the biggest teams in the world,” Ofori said.
“So to sign for them I feel very excited and it’s like a dream come true because every player wants to play for one of the biggest clubs in the world.
“I feel happy, good and at home because I feel like I have been playing with them for a while so to be finally here I feel very good.”
Ofori admitted his interest in Pirates was stirred by his compatriot Fatau Dauda, a former Buccaneers keeper during the 2013/14 season.
“In 2017 we went to Afcon and then we were talking about the team. He was saying Pirates are a very good team, they are a good family,” he said.
“Whenever we were talking about it, I got excited. That time in 2017 I wasn’t even playing here. Then I said ‘so this team is a very big team and the way Fatau is talking about it.’ I felt like one day I can play for this team. So to be here at this moment, I feel very excited.”
Ofori will be reunited with Fadlu Davids, the man who first brought him to South Africa when he signed him at Maritzburg. Davids is currently an assistant to Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer and he clearly used his previous relationship with Ofori to lure the goalkeeper to the Buccaneers.
“He [Davids] is a father to me because he brought me here, he signed me at Maritzburg United and then now he said I want to work with you again, can you come,” said Ofori.
“That was the time when they were thinking that maybe I wanted to join Mamelodi Sundowns, so he called me and said come. So I came, he is a father to me, he is a very good man. I’m very happy to meet him again.”
Long regarded as one of the finest goalkeepers in the South African league, Ofori had a brilliant 2019/20 season where he kept 11 clean sheets from 28 league matches. Only Pirates shot-stopper Wayne Sandilands and SuperSport United captain Ronwen Williams had more clean sheets with 12 and 13 clean sheets respectively. He has 19 international caps for the Black Stars of Ghana.
He joins a list of recent big-name signings made by Zinnbauer ahead of the new season including Bafana Bafana captain Thulani Hlatshwayo, Terrence Dzvukamanja, Deon Hotto and Thabang Monare.
Maritzburg United have moved swiftly to replace Ofori, signing 28 year old Zambian international goalkeeper Sebastian Mwange. Mwange joined the Team of Choice from Zambian Super League side Green Eagles.
He was in goal for Zambia’s Chipolopolo when they beat the Bafana Bafana 2-1 in an international friendly match just over a week ago in Rustenburg.
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