Napoli s Nigerian forward Victor Osimhen (L) challenges Atalanta s Brazilian midfielder Ederson during the Italian Serie A football match between Atalanta Bergamo and Napoli on November 5, 2022 at the Atleti Azzurri d Italia stadium in Bergamo. Photo: AFP
Victor Osimhen put together another strong performance to extend Napoli's winning streak to nine games in the Italian league with a 2-1 victory over second-place Atalanta in a top-of-the-table clash on Saturday.
The victory moved Napoli eight points clear ahead of Atalanta and nine points ahead of defending champion AC Milan, which was hosting Spezia later.
It also got Napoli going again after being beaten by Liverpool in the Champions League for its first loss across all competitions this season _ even though Napoli still won the group.
Atalanta, by contrast, is not playing in Europe this season and had all week to prepare for this game.
Ademola Lookman opened the scoring for Atalanta with a penalty following a handball from Osimhen.
Osimhen redeemed himself four minutes later by equalizing with a towering header after finding space between three defenders for his eighth goal of the season.
In the 35th, Osimhen turned provider when he fought his way past Merih Demiral on the right flank to send in a cross that Elif Elmas redirected in with a deflected shot after faking his way past Atalanta defender Hans Hateboer.
Elmas was a surprise starter at left wing in place of breakout star Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, who was ruled out of the trip with ``acute lower back pain.'' Giacomo Raspadori had widely been expected to start in place of Kvaratskhelia but Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti was paid back for selecting Elmas instead.
Chasing its first Serie A title since the days when Diego Maradona played for the southern club, Napoli has now beaten three key challengers in Milan, Roma and Atalanta _ with games against Empoli and Udinese remaining before the long break for the World Cup.
Napoli won't face Inter Milan and Juventus until January.
Earlier, Cremonese climbed out of last place with a 2-2 draw at 10th-place Salernitana courtesy of a late equalizer from Davide Ciofani, who turned in the rebound of his penalty kick.
Also, Empoli beat Sassuolo 1-0 in a mid-table clash with a goal from Tommaso Baldanzi.
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