Spalletti warns Napoli cannot rest on first-leg triumph over Eintracht Frankfurt

By Sports Desk February 21, 2023

Luciano Spalletti warned Napoli cannot think they have already reached the Champions League quarter-finals despite a dominant victory over Eintracht Frankfurt.

The Serie A leaders cruised to a 2-0 victory at Deutsche Bank Park as Victor Osimhen and Giovanni Di Lorenzo netted against Eintracht, who had Randal Kolo Muani sent off in the second half.

Napoli have never made it to the Champions League last eight but are in control of their last-16 tie ahead of the return meeting in Naples on March 15.

Spalletti refused to rest on his laurels, though, as he insisted nothing has been achieved just yet.

Asked if Napoli and Real Madrid, who smashed Liverpool 5-2 at Anfield in Tuesday's other clash, were favourites, Spalletti responded: "Will we be able to repeat it?

"We have to, let's see if we stay on track, remain in command. We cannot think we are automatically through."

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia saw Kevin Trapp save his penalty four minutes before Osimhen's first-half opener, with Napoli's poor spot-kick record continuing in the Champions League.

The Partenopei have scored just three of their six penalties taken in this year's competition, with only Monaco and Sevilla (in the 2016-17 term) missing as many in a single campaign, excluding shoot-outs, since Opta data began in the 2003-04 season.

Kvaratskhelia bounced back to tee up Di Lorenzo's calm finish, his 13th assist across all competitions this term – no Serie A player has managed more.

Spalletti referenced the resilience of Napoli being a key factor for their success.

"This thing should be highlighted here, the team didn't give up after the penalty kick, but scored immediately, insisted because we wanted to win," he added. 

"Thinking correctly, behaving like this, and wanting to win the match. We want to win them all, the matches pass so we don't come back again.

"We dreamed of this game here as children, we can't fail it. At 2-0, there was the possibility of scoring the third goal, we did some things well, others a little less, we could have tried more."

Victory marked Napoli's first away win in the Champions League knockout rounds, having lost their previous three, as they chase Serie A and European glory.

Related items

  • Russell Martin says win over Leeds was “huge moment” in Southampton’s season Russell Martin says win over Leeds was “huge moment” in Southampton’s season

    Russell Martin has insisted Southampton are through their “toughest period” of the season after beating Leeds 3-1.

    Adam Armstrong’s classy double and Will Smallbone’s first league goal for Saints – all in the first half – helped end a four-game losing streak.

    Pascal Struijk pulled one back for the visitors in the second half but Martin was thrilled to get back to winning ways.

    The Saints boss said: “I’m really proud of the players. The feeling in the camp has been great considering the results we’ve had and they’ve gone all in today.

    “We scored some goals of the highest quality and hopefully the fans enjoyed them and it gives the players energy.

    “Hopefully that will be the toughest period we go through and the most difficult moments we go through in the season.

    “We have learned a lot to come through it and to come through a team like Leeds, who will be up there at the end of the season.

    “It will be a huge moment for us. The spirit, aggression and mentality of the team today was where we need to live.”

    Saints were ahead after 104 seconds when Kyle Walker-Peters threaded through to Armstrong, before the forward deftly clipped over Illan Meslier.

    Winger Kamaldeen Sulemana then set up Smallbone to divert in to the bottom corner and then fired across the box to allow Armstrong to fire in.

    They were Armstrong’s sixth and seventh goals of the season.

    “He’s been amazing and runs hard for the team,” said Martin, who played Armstrong on the right wing.

    “He can play in a number of roles and the one at the moment really suits us.

    “I told him he’d play there for a bit and he’s getting better and better.

    “He is a threat wherever he plays and I trust him with whatever we ask him to do, and he does it.”

    Leeds coach Daniel Farke kept his side in the dressing room until the last possible moment and his extra details worked 13 minutes after the restart.

    A corner bobbled around the box before Struijk pulled the ball down on the swivel to poke home.

    Farke said he remained calm during the break, adding: “I wanted to give the players the chance to show a reaction in the second half.

    “I didn’t want to make two or three substitutions at half time and embarrass them, I didn’t get the feeling that two or three players were to blame.

    “On 99 per cent of all cases as a manager that at half time being 3-0 down I would have thrown bottles and killed someone.

    “Today I got the feeling that we had been unlucky and concentrated on how we could turn the game. I talked calmly about winning the second half – and I got the exact reaction I wanted.

    “What decided the game was our defensive behaviour, it was not spot on like in the last four games – where we have four clean sheets.

    “We needed to be more aware and awake in the decisive moments but apart from the goals I can’t remember a situation when Meslier had to make a save.

    “Sometimes tiny little moments can make a big difference. When you are 3-0 down at half-time it is always difficult to return with the points.”

  • Celtic showed ‘incredible mentality’ in late Motherwell drama – Brendan Rodgers Celtic showed ‘incredible mentality’ in late Motherwell drama – Brendan Rodgers

    Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers hailed his players’ composure and spirit following their dramatic late victory over Motherwell.

    The cinch Premiership leaders looked to have won it when substitute Luis Palma whipped the ball just inside the far post to open the scoring in the 87th minute at Fir Park.

    Motherwell levelled five minutes into stoppage time when Blair Spittal slotted home but Matt O’Riley converted Greg Taylor’s deep cross two minutes later to spark wild celebrations and seal a 2-1 win.

    Rodgers said: “It was a great response by the players, incredible mentality. I said to them afterwards, this club’s history is built on many late goals, that’s what Celtic does, but you have to have that will and desire to keep going.

    “I thought we dominated the game. Credit to Motherwell because they were tight and compact. You are not going to have it all your own way so you have to be patient and work the ball at speed. Probably our only thing was lacking a wee bit of quality in and around the box.

    “But once they equalised we stayed clam, kept working the ball and waiting for that moment. We didn’t start lumping it into the box. We worked our way up the pitch, one side to the other, and it was a great cross by Greg Taylor, who showed immense resilience to stay on because he has taken a bad whack on his calf.

    “Matty finished and it was brilliant for the supporters, they are starting to see how this team will keep fighting right to the end.”

    Motherwell have now lost by one goal against each of the top three in successive weeks and manager Stuart Kettlewell again felt they deserved more from the game.

    “It’s probably as sore a defeat as I have had,” he said.

    “We have had a real tough run of games, going to Ibrox and playing against a high-flying St Mirren and then Celtic. But all I can comment on is how my players are acquitting themselves and I hope you see how well they have played again.

    “I accept at times Celtic dominate the ball and carve out probably more chances than there have been in the last two games we have had but nobody can deny there was a real identity to our team again.

    “We created some real good chances ourselves and showed that character to get back in the game. It’s a bitter pill to swallow yet again.”

    Celtic fans spilled on to the track after Palma’s goal with one or two bursting on to the pitch and Motherwell supporters responded by coming on to the park after their equaliser. Celtic’s winner sparked an even bigger invasion and missiles were exchanged between the two sets of fans.

    Kettlewell said: “I don’t want to see those scenes, nobody will, but I also think by the emotion of the game and Celtic knowing they were properly in one again, scoring so late, I understand the emotion of the football supporter.

    “But that doesn’t vindicate the fact we have got fans streaming on to the park. It does a look a bit ugly.

    “You are always concerned about your own players’ safety but Celtic supporters were on to cheer their goal and celebrate with their team so there was no situation where our players were accosted or anything.”

    Rodgers added: “I saw people on the pitch and, listen, that is not what we would want. You understand a little bit the lateness of the goals and what that brings to it and you have to think of the context, but I didn’t see anything else.”

  • Southampton see off Leeds and end a nightmare September Southampton see off Leeds and end a nightmare September

    Goals from Adam Armstrong and Will Smallbone ended Southampton’s horror September and put them on course for a 3-1 victory over Leeds.

    Armstrong needed just 104 seconds to chip Saints ahead before Smallbone’s low finish and another Armstrong effort – via a deflection – put the hosts in control.

    Pascal Struijk pulled one back for Leeds but Southampton ended their four-match winless run and halted a six-game unbeaten stint for their West Yorkshire visitors.

    Saints had not won in a dismal September to puncture their promotion ambitions but they started with a bang.

    Kyle Walker-Peters spotted Adam Armstrong’s run in behind with a perfect through ball.

    The attacker strode towards goal and then deftly clipped over Illan Meslier for his sixth of the season and ended Leeds’ 362 minutes without conceding.

    Leeds attempted to hit back when Georginio Rutter drove in from the right flank and forced Gavin Bazunu into a full-length dive, and Sam Byram sliced wide.

    But the visitors’ ascendancy was cut back down as they conceded twice in four minutes.

    Kamaldeen Sulemana produced a first-half performance that brought back memories of Sadio Mane – and had a hand in both goals.

    In the 31st minute he collected a ball from Stuart Armstrong, darted towards the box before standing up his defender and laying across the area for Smallbone.

    The midfielder angled the shot perfectly across the face of the goal and into the bottom corner for his first league goal for Southampton.

    In their next attack, Sulemana swung a low ball on the angle to fellow winger Adam Armstrong who made Bryam lose his footing twice before firing past Meslier via a deflection off Struijk .

    Saints could have gone in at the break 4-0 up had Carlos Alcaraz’s back post header not been tipped over by the goalkeeper.

    Leeds coach Daniel Farke kept his side in the dressing room until the last possible moment and his extra details worked 13 minutes after the restart.

    A corner bobbled around the box before Struijk pulled the ball down on the swivel to poke home.

    Daniel James fired wide and Joel Piroe stabbed straight at Bazunu as United threatened to turn things around.

    But the clash petered out with a half-chance for Rutter as Saints won at home for just the second time this season to ease the pressure on Russell Martin.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.