Soccer-Osimhen hat-trick fires Napoli to big win at Sassuolo

Soccer Football - Champions League - Round of 16 - First Leg - Napoli v FC Barcelona - Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, Naples, Italy - February 21, 2024 Napoli's Victor Osimhen celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Remo Casilli/File Photo

(Reuters) -Victor Osimhen's hat-trick helped Napoli thrash struggling Sassuolo 6-1 in Serie A on Wednesday, the Italian champions' first win under caretaker coach Francesco Calzona.

Napoli, who appointed Calzona last week following the sacking of Walter Mazzarri, secured their first victory in four league games.

They are ninth in the standings with 40 points from 26 games, level with Lazio and eight behind Bologna in fourth.

"From the first training session these guys gave me their all. I saw total availability, desire to train and be together. This gave me hope," Calzona told DAZN.

"We've been working together for a week and I've seen the team increase in intensity, high quality in training."

Napoli started the match having earned 28 points fewer than last season after 25 games played, the worst ever record for an Italian champion team at this stage of their next campaign.

Hosts Sassuolo took the lead in the 17th minute through midfielder Uros Racic, who latched on to a poor clearance to score with a low shot into the corner of the net.

Amir Rrahmani levelled and Osimhen scored twice to put the visitors 3-1 up at halftime before the Nigerian striker completed his hat-trick soon after the break and winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia struck twice to complete the rout.

Rrahmani equalised for Napoli in the 29th minute with a powerful low shot past Sassuolo goalkeeper Andrea Consigli after being set up by a delightful flick from Cameroon midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa.

Osimhen put Napoli in front two minutes later as Giovanni Di Lorenzo sent another brilliant pass inside the area and Matteo Politano teed up the Nigerian with a clever backheel.

Osimhen made it 3-1 just before halftime, chipping the goalkeeper after another Politano cross.

Napoli outclassed their opponents and it was 4-1 to the visitors two minutes into the second half when Osimhen completed his hat-trick following a Sassuolo defensive error.

With his 11th league goal of the season, Osimhen became only the third Napoli player to reach double goal figures in four consecutive campaigns after Diego Maradona and Attila Sallustro.

Kvaratskhelia made it 5-1 following a solo run in the 51st minute before completing the rout with a stunning shot on a rebound 15 minutes from time.

Sassuolo, who on Sunday fired coach Alessio Dionisi after suffering their seventh loss in 10 league games, are 18th with 20 points.

They and Salernitana are the only sides who have not yet won a match in the second part of the 2023-24 Serie A season.

(Reporting by Anita Kobylinska in Gdansk; editing by Ed Osmond)

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