Late Empoli winner piles pressure on Napoli boss Rudi Garcia

By Sports Desk November 12, 2023

Empoli increased the pressure on under-fire Napoli boss Rudi Garcia with a 1-0 win in Serie A.

Viktor Kovalenko’s injury-time winner gave the visitors the smash-and-grab points in Naples and left Garcia in no doubt about how the home fans feel about him after he received jeers.

Last year’s champions are in fourth after this sorry defeat.

It could have been so different had the hosts taken two early chances, but they came up against inspired Empoli goalkeeper Etrit Berisha.

The Albania international tipped Matteo Politano’s effort wide and then kept out Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa’s header from the resulting corner.

Napoli thought they had taken the lead in the 27th minute after Giovanni Simeone poked home but he was ruled offside.

Empoli showed they meant business and fired two warning shots before the break when Matteo Cancellieri fizzed a shot just wide and then Andrea Ranocchia volleyed inches over.

Napoli took a while to get going after the break and then found Berisha was in no mood to concede.

Jesper Lindstrom, who had just come on, fired a wicked effort from 20 yards that was heading for the top corner, but the goalkeeper made a superb flying save.

He then twice denied Khvicha Kvaratskhelia as Napoli kept knocking on the door.

First he kept out an arrowed effort from the Georgian and then used his leg to save another low shot.

It looked like Napoli would be mulling over two points dropped as the game headed into injury time, but things got a lot worse as Empoli stole the win.

In the first minute of injury time Kovalenko found space on the edge of the area and found the far post with a delicious curling effort which beat goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini and went in off the post.

There was no time for Napoli to respond and Garcia was left staring down the barrel.

Related items

  • Lecce ready for tough challenge against Inter Milan – coach Roberto D’Aversa Lecce ready for tough challenge against Inter Milan – coach Roberto D’Aversa

    Lecce coach Roberto D’Aversa will have his team ready to tackle their own Mission Impossible when they host Serie A leaders Inter Milan on Sunday.

    The Nerazzurri have won all of their games so far in 2024 and head south with a nine-point advantage over second-placed Juventus, who have played a game more.

    Lecce may have won just twice in 20 league matches as they battle to stay clear of the relegation scrap, but D’Aversa insisted they would aim to meet Inter head on at the Stadio Via del Mare.

    “Inter are coming off nine consecutive victories, their statistics in 2024 are impressive, so it might seem impossible for us to get a result – but I believe nothing is impossible in football,” D’Aversa said at a press conference.

    “There are a few positive aspects, for example that we are on home turf. We need to cause problems for a team who played in the Champions League midweek (against Atletico Madrid).

    “I don’t believe the idea we have nothing to lose, as there is always something to lose. We just have to give our best and see how it goes.”

    Lecce will be without defenders Patrick Dorgu and Marin Pongracic through suspension, while Federico Brancolini, Jeppe Corfitzen and Kastriot Dermaku are all still injured.

    D’Aversa said: “Federico Baschirotto is fit and should start tomorrow (in defence), I have two possibilities to choose from on who will be next to him.

    “(Santiago) Pierotti is improving and needs time to settle, while (forward) Lameck Banda has recovered and we’ll see if he can start tomorrow.”

    Inter goalkeeper Yann Sommer is set to miss Sunday’s game after being laid low by a flu virus, so Emil Audero is in line to make his Serie A debut, having playing only twice in the Champions League and Coppa Italia.

    French forward Marcus Thuram is injured, along with Francesco Acerbi and Juan Cuadrado.

    Inter coach Simone Inzaghi could look to rotate the team, with a rescheduled league game at home to Atalanta – who are chasing a top-four place – coming up on Wednesday.

    Defender Alessandro Bastoni could be rested, as one more yellow card would see him serve a suspension.

  • We will keep working: Gilbert says 1-5 loss to Chile a part of learning curve for new-look Reggae Girlz We will keep working: Gilbert says 1-5 loss to Chile a part of learning curve for new-look Reggae Girlz

    Though disappointed by their hefty defeat to Chile in their opening friendly contest, interim Head coach Xavier Gilbert maintain that his youthful senior Reggae Girlz outfit will learn from the setback, as he anticipates an improved performance in the second encounter on Tuesday.

    In fact, Gilbert is confident that the more his new-look team plays, the better the performances will be, as they continue to introduce and expose players to the senior programme, mainly due to the current standoff between the World Cup players and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF).

    The Chileans through goals from Michelle Olivares (12th), Maria Jose Urrutia (22nd), Yestin Jimenez (61st), Yenny Acuna (70th) and Paloma Duarte (88th), outclassed their Jamaican counterparts at the Juan Pinto Duran Stadium in Chile on Friday. Chinyelu Asher (77th) with her seventh international goal, pulled one back for the Jamaicans.

    “I don’t think we were good enough to be honest, we started off really shaky and allowed them too much space to play despite what we said we wanted to achieve and how we wanted to approach the game. We were a little bit tentative on the back foot and they exploited those areas that we left opened,” Gilbert told SportsMax.TV.

    “We were much better in the second half, so we will look to build on that because it is a learning process, and so we will see how best we can carry that momentum over into the next game,” he added.

    Along with the lack of preparation heading into the games, Gilbert pointed out that niggling injuries also marred their performance, as a number of the college players are just getting back into season, while former Liverpool midfielder Jade Bailey is still gradually working her way back from a knee surgery.

    “It was difficult because some players are recovering from injury and some college players are just heading back into season, but it is what we have to work with, and we just have to put a better showing in the next game. The more we play oppositions like these, the better we will get. As I said before, this is new for a lot of them on the international stage, so the more we play, the more competitive we will be,” Gilbert reasoned.

    Still, with the next game scheduled for Tuesday, the veteran tactician is keen on using the remaining time in Chile to work on certain aspects of the team’s game, with hopes of conducting more intensive work when they next assemble for the April window.

    “But for now we are just going to recover and assess the game, look at where we went wrong and improve some things that we could have done better. There are some areas that needs more work than what we will be able to fix here, but we are going to ensure we have good defensive organisation,” Gilbert declared.

    “So, we are going to give a few other players some minutes to get back into fold and we are going to continue to work to make sure that defensively we are solid, and also tighten up on how we match up against opponents like these, so we should give a better account of ourselves in the next game,” he ended.

  • Bailey provides goal and assist as Aston Villa maintain top-four push with victory over Nottingham Forest Bailey provides goal and assist as Aston Villa maintain top-four push with victory over Nottingham Forest

    Aston Villa strengthened their grip on a top-four position in the Premier League with a pulsating 4-2 win over Nottingham Forest.

    Villa have their sights firmly set on Champions League qualification and a first home league win of 2024 saw them move five points clear of Tottenham in fifth.

    Ollie Watkins and Douglas Luiz’s double saw them cruise into a 3-0 first-half lead only for Forest to scare them with goals either side of half-time through Moussa Niakhate and Morgan Gibbs-White.

    But Leon Bailey struck on the hour to give Villa breathing space and they saw it out to give themselves a cushion over the chasing pack.

    Forest were lucky still to be in the game at half-time after being overrun in the first 40 minutes but improved after the break and had enough chances to scrape a point, which would have been handy in their battle against relegation.

    Villa needed less than four minutes to go in front as Watkins scored his 14th of the season.

    This was one of his easiest finishes, though, thanks to the work of Bailey, who gave him a simple tap-in after being played in down the right and making light work of Murillo.

    Watkins could have had his second six minutes later as Villa advanced down the other side, but the England striker’s shot from Jacob Ramsey’s cut-back was blocked on the line by Niakhate.

    Villa’s second goal came just before the half-hour and again was built on the right as Cash passed to Ramsey, who teed up Luiz to sweep into the corner.

    Forest skipper Gibbs-White summoned his team for a huddle after that went in and gave an impassioned speech, but it had little impact as Villa went three up in the 39th minute.

    John McGinn sent in a delightful cross from a recycled corner for Luiz to plant a free header into the corner for his second of the match.

    Forest gave themselves a lifeline in first-half injury time as Taiwo Awoniyi headed a corner back across goal and Niakhate chested the ball over the line from close range.

    They made three changes at half-time and it had the perfect impact as they made it 3-2 shortly after the restart when substitute Divock Origi slipped Gibbs-White through and he clipped by Emiliano Martinez.

    Moments later it should have been 3-3 as Anthony Elanga was sent clear by Origi but dragged his shot wide.

    Villa had been like rabbits in the headlights but they began to reassert themselves and almost scored a fourth when Alex Moreno teed up Youri Tielemans, but the Belgian stroked his effort into the post.

    The hosts did take control again on the hour as they made it 4-2, with Forest shooting themselves in the foot.

    Playing out from the back, Andrew Omobamidele passed to Tielemans, who slipped in Watkins and when Matz Selz came out to block the loose ball it fell to Bailey who had a simple tap-in.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.