Cheick Diabate the instant hero at Benevento

Benevento's Cheick Diabate EPA/MARIO TADDEO

Mali striker Cheick Diabate needed just 12 minutes to endear himself to Benevento after coming off the bench to settle his new club's thrilling 3-2 victory over Crotone in Serie A on Sunday.

Diabate, a loan signing from Osmanlispor in January, has been made to wait for his debut in the Italian top flight.

However, he was given his opportunity to impress on Sunday, with his new club tied 2-2 at home with fellow strugglers Crotone heading into the last 13 minutes.

Benevento had led 2-1 after goals from Sandro and Nicolas Viola had cancelled out Giovanni Crociata's opener, but Ahmad Benali's 73rd-minute equaliser threatened to deny the hosts a valuable win.

However, Diabate stepped off the bench to make a near instant impact in front of his new fans.

One minute from time, he pounced on a downward header from Berat Djimsiti and slammed a right-footed shot past Alex Cordaz to secure a 3-2 victory for Serie A's bottom club - only their third of a testing campaign.

It was the 29-year-old's first - and only - shot of the match.

The win breaks a four-game losing streak for the Campania-based club, although they remain at the foot of the table after taking just 10 points from their opening 25 matches.

A series of intriguing January singings - including former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Sandro and ex-Arsenal full-back Bacary Sagna - suggests that Benevento aren't willing to accept their fate just yet, although 11 points from safety, they have their work cut out to salvage their top-flight status.

Diabate overcame adversity and tragedy - he lost his mother as a youngster and his best friend during his early teens -- in his homeland before moving to Bordeaux as an 18-year-old.

However, he's struggled to build on the potential he showed earlier on his career during eight years with the Girondins, and a move to Osmanlispor in 2016 hasn't worked out.

However, encouragingly for Benevento, he has experience of successfully avoiding relegation, having helped Metz stave off the drop last term after joining the club half way through the campaign.

He netted eight goals in 14 outings for the Grenats, prompting an upturn in fortunes which saw them end the campaign seven points clear of the bottom three.

Benevento continue their battle against the drop away at Internazionale on Saturday, before the visit of fellow strugglers Hellas Verona on March 4th.