Alamy Stock Photo Victor Osimhen of SSC Napoli celebrates (file pic).
On the rise
Teenage starlet shines for Bayern, Napoli's extraordinary season continues
Jamal Musiala sealed a controversial 4-2 away win at Wolfsburg for the league leaders.

Updated at 22.31

A STUNNING solo goal from Bayern Munich teenager Jamal Musiala sealed a controversial 4-2 away win at Wolfsburg on Sunday, sending the visitors back to the top of the table.

The win, Bayern’s first league victory in 2023, was marred by a late VAR decision to chalk off a Wolfsburg goal, which would have made the score 4-3 with seven minutes plus stoppage time remaining.

Bayern went into the game just hours after sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said he was “disappointed” with injured captain Manuel Neuer for putting “his personal interests above” the club.

Neuer, who is currently out injured with a broken leg from a skiing accident in December, criticised the club’s decision to fire long-time goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalovic, saying he felt “as if my heart had been ripped out”.

Speaking with German tabloid Bild, Salihamidzic said: “I understand Manuel is affected personally, but as captain I would have expected a different attitude from him.”

On the pitch, Bayern played the majority of the second half with 10 men after midfielder Joshua Kimmich picked up a second yellow card.

Bayern struck in the ninth minute through France forward Kingsley Coman, whose curling cross evaded a leaping Thomas Mueller but drifted past goalkeeper Koen Casteels and into the net.

Coman added another just five minutes later, hammering a floating Joao Cancelo ball past a helpless Casteels.

Coman then won a free-kick just outside the Wolfsburg box and Mueller headed in Kimmich’s delivery to make it 3-0 with less than 20 minutes gone.

The goal, Mueller’s first since September, came on his 427th league appearance for Bayern, equalling Gerd Mueller’s all-time record.

Wolfsburg manager Niko Kovac, who won the league and cup double with Bayern, took off centre-back Maxence Lacroix for winger Jakub Kaminski after just 30 minutes.

The change had an almost immediate impact, with the Polish international scoring late in the first half to give the home side hope.

Kimmich picked up a second yellow for a foul on Wolfsburg’s Max Arnold 10 minutes into the second half, prompting Julian Nagelsmann to make three changes.

Wolfsburg went on the attack immediately and should have had a second when Kaminski found an unmarked Ridle Baku in the box, but the midfielder headed the ball directly at Bayern ‘keeper Yann Sommer.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, Bayern absorbed waves of Wolfsburg pressure and were next to get on the scoresheet thanks to a sensational goal from Musiala.

Musiala collected the ball near the sideline and dribbled through the heart of the Wolfsburg defence, slaloming past several defenders before unleashing a low shot to beat Casteels.

Wolfsburg scored a second with 10 minutes remaining through Mattias Svanberg.

The 2009 Bundesliga winners had the ball in the net against just two minutes later, but the goal was controversially disallowed for a foul in the build-up.

- ‘Lucky winners’ -

The win saw Bayern reclaim their one-point lead over second-placed Union Berlin.

Nagelsmann praised Musiala for his “decisive goal” with the match in the balance.

“Thank god we got that goal,” Nagelsmann said. Above all it’s a win, which is very important for us.”

“Jamal played very well. I am very, very satisfied (with him).”

Kovac has seen his side lose their past three matches in all competitions after a run of six wins put them in sight of the European places.

“We were unlucky losers and Bayern were lucky winners,” he said.

Earlier on Sunday, goals from Jens Stage and Marvin Ducksch carried Werder Bremen to a 2-0 away win that left Stuttgart in the relegation play-off spot.

Bremen’s Niclas Fuellkrug broke through on the counter in the 59th minute, losing possession when about to strike, but the ball bounced into the path of Danish midfielder Stage, who hammered into the roof of the net.

The goal rattled Stuttgart and with Bremen turning up the pressure, Ducksch added a second.

The win, Bremen’s second in a row, sent the promoted side up to eighth, just two spots from the European placings.

Elsewhere, Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia were again the stars of the show for Napoli as the Serie A leaders won 3-0 at Spezia.

Wing wizard Kvaratskhelia put Napoli ahead from the penalty spot two minutes after the break on the Italian Riviera before Osimhen netted twice, taking his league tally to 16.

Nigeria forward Osimhen pounced on a defensive error to double Napoli’s lead in the 68th minute and five minutes later rolled home an easy finish after Mattia Caldara passed straight to Kvaratskhelia on the edge of his own area.

“All the victories are important, we need to keep the momentum and try to win all games,” said Osimhen to Sky in Italy.

“It is not going to be easy of course, Serie A is a very competitive league and we have to be on top of our game. We go back, we prepare for the next game, that is the most important thing.”

Osimhen ended the day on top of the world after beginning it going into to the stands at the Stadio Picco to apologise to a woman fan who hit with a off-target pre-match practice shot.

The 23-year-old hugged the woman and posed for selfies before going on to continue Napoli’s unstoppable-looking title charge.

“I think she was looking at her phone, the ball hit her in the face and I felt so sorry, as I didn’t mean to do that,” added Osimhen.

“I had to show my appreciation and say sorry for that.”

Spezia stay 17th, five points above Verona who are just inside the relegation zone and host Lazio on Monday evening.

In the late Serie A game, Lautaro Martinez shot Inter Milan to a 1-0 derby triumph over crumbling champions AC Milan as his team stayed 13 points behind Napoli.

Argentina forward Martinez headed home his 12th league goal of the season in the 34th minute at the San Siro to make sure that Inter remained in second place and plunge their local rivals even deeper into crisis.

A third straight league defeat leaves Milan in sixth and in a downward spiral that threatens to completely ruin a season that less than a month ago looked to be going more or less according to plan.

Stefano Pioli’s side have earned just five points from their six league matches since the World Cup and have also been knocked out of the Italian Cup and beaten by Inter in the Super Cup.

Milan have to take on Tottenham Hotspur in their first Champions League last-16 tie since 2014 in less than 10 days.

Having already been thumped twice by Chelsea this season their chances of advancing in Europe also look slim.

They didn’t have a single shot on target in an underwhelming derby which was largely dominated by Inter, the nominal hosts on Sunday night.

Martinez could easily have had more than just the one goal which took his calendar year tally in all competitions to seven as he forced two smart saves from Ciprian Tatarusanu and headed a Milan Skriniar cross just wide before he opened the scoring.

He also had a late goal ruled offside by the tiniest margin, his forehead just beyond the defenders before he poked under Tatarusanu, but it made no difference to a curiously comfortable derby win.

– © AFP 2023

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