Empoli s Italian goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario and Napoli s Nigerian forward Victor Osimhen fight for the ball during the Italian Serie A football match between Empoli FC and SSC Napoli at the Stadio comunale Carlo Castellani stadium in Empoli on February 25, 2023. AFP
Osimhen tapped in his 11th goal in all competitions since the turn of the year in the 28th minute in Tuscany to help move Napoli another step closer to what looks like an inevitable first league title since 1990.
The 24-year-old's 19th league strike of a sensational season increased Napoli's points tally to a barely believable 65 after 24 games.
Osimhen was only denied from taking his Serie A tally to 20 by Ardian Ismajli bundling into his own net in the 17th minute while trying to stop the Nigeria forward netting from Piotr Zielinski's low cross.
Not even Mario Rui being sent off midway through the second half for inexplicably kicking Empoli striker Francesco Caputo could stop Napoli, who also struck the bar through Kim Min-Jae, from winning their eighth Serie A match on the bounce.
Inter Milan can cut the gap between them and Napoli back to 15 points with a win at Bologna on Sunday afternoon, but the title appears to be as good as gone for Italy's traditional northern powerhouses.
Second-placed Inter are one of five teams battling for the remaining three Champions League positions and are three points ahead of both champions AC Milan and Roma.
Milan host Atalanta -- who are six points behind Inter in sixth -- on Sunday night, buoyed by the return of France international goalkeeper Mike Maignan.
Lazio are two points off the top four in fifth ahead of their match in Rome with troubled Sampdoria on Monday, while Roma travel to rock-bottom Cremonese on Tuesday evening.
Juventus host local rivals Torino on Tuesday hoping for a fourth straight league win after crushing Nantes to reach the Europa League last 16 on Thursday night.
Juve are seventh and nine points off the European spots despite being deducted 15 points for what the Italian football federation ruled was illicit transfer activity designed to artificially boost the club's balance sheet.
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