Napoli’s Victor Osimhen celebrates his second goal in the Europa League Group C draw against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium in Leicester
Victor Osimhen prevented Leicester from getting off to a perfect start in the Europa League when Napoli struck back from a 2-0 deficit to score a point.
The striker scored twice in the second half as the guests in Group C at King Power Stadium earned a 2-2 draw The first goal by Ayoze Perez since March and the goal by Harvey Barnes in the second half gave the Foxes a sovereign lead.
But Osimhen grabbed a classic lifeline for the visitors and then headed in a late equalizer, with Leicester’s frustration made worse when Wilfred Ndidi was sent off in added time.
Police and law enforcement officers had to control a disruption between home and traveling fans full-time with missiles thrown between supporters.
Napoli controlled much of the game and almost regretted several missed opportunities with Osimhen, Hirving Lozano, Piotr Zielinski and Kevin Malcuit in the first half.
The Foxes – which Jamie Vardy only introduced as a late replacement – are heading to Legia Warsaw in two weeks’ time, which won at Spartak Moscow on Wednesday.
Leicester and Napoli started the tournament as joint favorites to pick up the trophy in Seville in May and went for each other as if to prove their qualifications.
Napoli threatened first and Kasper Schmeichel spilled Osimhen’s early shot from a distance before David Ospina came to the rescue.
The former Arsenal goalkeeper threw himself at Barnes’ feet to twist his shot wide at close range after Perez struggled and Kelechi helped Iheanacho with his cross.
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But Ospina could not slow down the foxes for long and after nine minutes they grabbed the prelude. It was thanks to Barnes’ direct run that the winger collected the ball to the left of Ryan Bertrand’s kill.
He stormed forward, trading passes with Patson Daka and delivering a low cross for Perez to volley off the far post.
Napoli reacted well and the lively Osimhen missed the goal before bringing Malcuit to excess after 29 minutes.
Osimhen remained a threat, and when he hit Jonny Evans on the flank, only a combination of Timothy Castagne and Schmeichel Zielinski lasted.
Napoli, who had won all three Serie A games this season, had slowly taken control and skipper Lorenzo Insigne bored as the foxes struggled to regain a rhythm.
The Italians were in command but became wasteful when Nigerian international Osimhen shot another chance before Schmeichel ensured Leicester break.
The foxes had lived dangerously and survived another warning when Malcuit’s cross drove Lozano into space and his header was parried by Schmeichel.
Leicester, which has played its first European home game with fans with Atletico Madrid since the Champions League quarter-finals in 2017, needed help.
Boss Brendan Rodgers recognized this and replaced Perez and Jonny Evans with Youri Tielemans and Caglar Soyuncu during the break, but Leicester could not stop the tide at first.
Tielemans was involved and stabbed the ball to Daka so the striker could drill into it, only to have his first Leicester goal denied by a marginal VAR offside call.
Iheanacho won the ball in midfield and Barnes found his perfect pass on the left for the winger to tease Malcuit and drill into the corner.
Napoli paid the price for their waste, but 21 minutes from time they scored a goal in style.
A clever move on the edge of the penalty area with Insigne, Elif Elmas and Fabian Ruiz ended with Osimhen Jannik Vestergaard repelling and the ball rushing over Schmeichel from six meters.
Unsurprisingly, Napoli pushed for the equalizer and Schmeichel blocked Elmas’ shot, but the Foxes couldn’t hold out.
Osimhen had been a constant threat and he scored again with three minutes remaining, headed a Matteo Politano cross from eight yards.
Ndidi was then sacked in added time for receiving a second yellow card after withdrawing Adam Ounas.
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