NAPLES, ITALY — After the feats of Alexis Sánchez and Arturo Vidal in the Champions League on Wednesday, it was time for another Chilean to shine. Eduardo Vargas, who signed a multi-million dollar deal with Napoli at the end of last year, finally opened his goalscoring account with the club.
In order to make up for almost nine months without a goal, the former Universidad de Chile striker blasted goals number two and three to help Napoli smash Sweden’s AIK Solna 4-0.
Not only did Vargas finally break his scoring drought with the sixth minute goal, but became the first Chilean to score a hat-trick in a UEFA competition.
After the win, his teammates called him an “unlocked” player, while Vargas stated simply that he was happy that the team won.
Vargas has not seen much time on the field in his time in Europe and stated after Chile’s loss to Ecuador that, “If I am not playing I would prefer to go out on loan.”
Eduardo Vargas scored a hat-trick for Napoli in the Europa League. Photo: Francisca Bórquez
Limited minutes have made it difficult for Vargas to shine in Italy, however his performance will remind many of why he was the subject of a bidding war between Chelsea and Napoli. In his first European season, Vargas played an average of only fifteen minutes per game.
Not long after his arrival, Napoli played Chelsea in the Champions League. Though Napoli had won the bidding war, Chelsea had the last laugh by winning the game and the whole competition. Vargas came on as a substitute during extra time.
Universidad de Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli would have been watching with nostalgia as Vargas produced the form which saw him break the record for most goals in the Copa Sudamericana, helping “La U” to their first international title.
Aside from “Edu”, Junior Fernandes came on in the second half for Bayer Leverkusen, while Marcelo Díaz was a started with FC Basel. Despite losing so much strike power in the past year, the azules remain on top of the table in Chile.
Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri said ahead of the match: “Vargas has impressed me in every game so far this season. He just has to remain focussed. That first goal he so desperately wants will arrive when he least expects it. I hope he has that little bit of luck that will help him overcome that taboo.”
The question remains if his strong showing will allow him to start in the Serie A competition. Mazzarri made a number of changes to his lineup for the Europa League clash.