Spalletti: Napoli 'playing for the happiness of a city' after win at Atalanta

By Sports Desk April 03, 2022

Napoli head coach Luciano Spalletti has said his team understands they are "playing for the happiness of a city" after an impressive 3-1 victory away to Atalanta put them level on points with Serie A leaders Milan.

A penalty from Lorenzo Insigne and a Matteo Politano free-kick saw the Naples side 2-0 up at half-time, only for Marten de Roon to halve the deficit just before the hour mark at Gewiss Stadium.

However, a well-taken goal on the counter-attack from Elif Elmas late on after neat work from Hirving Lozano was enough to secure the three points and give Napoli their third league win in a row.

The victory means Spalletti's men are on 66 points, the same as leaders Milan though having played a game more, with the Rossoneri hosting Bologna on Monday.

"We have come out of difficult situations this season, but at this point here, there is no turning back," Spalletti told DAZN after the win.

"We suffered again today, at the beginning of both halves, [but] the team began to turn and even when Atalanta responded, the team did not disunite, on the contrary, we went in search of the third goal, which shows how we have grown."

 

Napoli, who were missing star striker Victor Osimhen, have now scored eight penalties in a single Serie A campaign for the first time since they returned to the top-flight (from 2007/08).

It is their away record that has kept them in the race for the Scudetto, having now won 11 and lost just one of their 16 games on the road (D4).

However, Spalletti also acknowledged their home form, which has been less impressive, winning nine and losing four of their 15 games at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona (D2).

"There is still a long way to go, because we have lost too many points at home and we cannot let our guard down," he added.

"What these guys have understood is that they are playing for the happiness of a city."

Related items

  • Axel Disasi admits Brentford draw was two points dropped for Chelsea Axel Disasi admits Brentford draw was two points dropped for Chelsea

    Axel Disasi admitted Chelsea’s 2-2 draw at west London rivals Brentford was two points dropped.

    Defender Disasi’s late header secured a point for the Blues, who led through Nicolas Jackson’s first-half goal but then trailed to strikes from Mads Roerslev and Yoanne Wissa.

    It was another unconvincing display from Chelsea and one that prompted the away fans to turn on head coach Mauricio Pochettino for the first time.

    “To be honest we are left frustrated. I think in the first half we deserve to score maybe one goal more,” Disasi told the club website.

    “Then after half time they pushed and we have to do better because we lost two points. I think we had the quality to win the game, so the feeling is a little bit sad.

    “I’m happy to score and we didn’t lose because of this goal, that is good. But it would be a much better feeling if this goal was for the win. It was not the case but hopefully will be in the future.”

    Wissa scored a spectacular overhead kick which the DR Congo international admitted was the best of his career – despite some stiff competition.

    “This is the best one,” he said. “If I have to compare it, a goal against Oldham (in September 2021). But this is better because this is the Premier League against this kind of team.

    “Especially in this time – it’s not an easy time for every fan and player – it means a lot to me, especially after coming back from AFCON.

    “In the second half we gave only one and a half chances away. The second half was much better.

    “Everyone stepped up their level and the crowd was with us. This is how we want it, this is how Brentford play. It means a lot for the team. I’m very happy with that.

    “It came from the players. This is what we wanted, some personality.”

  • Son Heung-min expecting goals to flow soon for Brennan Johnson Son Heung-min expecting goals to flow soon for Brennan Johnson

    Tottenham captain Son Heung-min has backed the floodgates to open soon for team-mate Brennan Johnson after his latest crucial cameo.

    Johnson’s 63rd-minute introduction helped Spurs fight back from a goal down to beat Crystal Palace 3-1 on Saturday and get their Champions League qualification hopes back on track.

    It was a similar story against Brentford and Brighton earlier this year with the Welsh international beginning to flourish after his £47.5million move from Nottingham Forest in September.

    Johnson scored once and laid on two assists during his first 11 appearances for the club, but his two assists against Palace mean he has six goal involvements in his last 11 outings for Ange Postecoglou’s team.

    It was Johnson’s tenacity which made the leveller after he won back possession from Joachim Andersen before he got the better of Jefferson Lerma to tee up Timo Werner and he later set up Son for Spurs’ third goal.

    “Strong man,” Tottenham captain Son told Spurs Play.

    “That is what we need, especially the way we play. We want to play high, high intensity and who is coming from the bench has to make an impact. Brennan did and he did two amazing assists.

    “I like this guy. I love this guy. I just want to help him as much as I can.

    “Even when we start the game, I tell him, ‘just make sure you’re ready, you’ll make the difference. When you come on, you’ll make the difference,’ and that’s what we need.

    “Brennan did a fantastic job and I just want to give him a big hug.

    “The goals obviously he is missing but I am definitely sure, the way he works, working like this, the goals will come automatically, I am 100 per cent sure.”

    Postecoglou echoed Son’s sentiments on Johnson, he said: “I thought Brennan was good, but I thought all of them were good.

    “In those moments we work hard with our wide players to make sure they’re in the right areas and a couple of times we just weren’t when the ball was flashed across.

    “Brennan did fantastically well to win back possession and when he’s played it across, it’s the other winger that’s there. From our perspective that’s a really important part because it’s not by accident.”

    A slight worry for Spurs was substitute Pape Sarr seemingly in pain at full-time, but Postecoglou played down concerns.

    He added: “Pape’s had a bit of a back issue since he got back from the Africa Cup of Nations. He’s been dealing with it and it’s getting better but it’s not sort of totally free, so it’s something we’re working on with him.”

     

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Pape matar sarr (@pape_matar_sarr_15)


    A positive for Palace was Eberechi Eze’s goalscoring return after a hamstring injury and new boss Oliver Glasner preached patience after he brought him off in the 65th-minute.

     

    “You have to take care. We cannot afford to lose him for more weeks again, so this was the reason,” Glasner revealed.

    “I think the whole of England knows Ebs is a great player and he can decide games, but also we could see he does not have the rhythm because for these 65 minutes it was not maybe his highest level.

    “It is normal because he came back from an injury.

    “Now we work also with him that he will be able to play 95, 100 minutes on the highest level.”

  • Jurgen Klopp hails last-gasp Liverpool hero Darwin Nunez Jurgen Klopp hails last-gasp Liverpool hero Darwin Nunez

    Jurgen Klopp hailed Darwin Nunez’s last-gasp winner in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat of Nottingham Forest as the perfect response to the City Ground boo-boys.

    Nunez marked his return from a three-game injury lay-off by heading home Alexis Mac Allister’s cross in the ninth minute of added time to lift his side four points clear at the top of the Premier League.

    As Nunez stepped off the bench in the second half, a section of Forest fans chanted: “You’re just a sxxx Andy Carroll”, in reference to the Uruguay international’s pony-tail, which is similar to the one worn by the former Liverpool striker.

    Klopp, who claimed the win was among his side’s biggest of the season, said: “It’s such an important goal, which gives you three points. It’s always super-decisive and, especially for him, super-deserved.

    “Before people start singing that song more often, it’s the best way to immediately calm it down.

    “But they can sing it if Darwin responds like he did today. Before that he had really good moments. (He forced) a sensational save off the goalie, he was immediately in the game.”

    When asked if Nunez understood the song, Klopp added: “I understood it. Yes, I think he understands it, so that’s the best answer.”

    Klopp was delighted his injury-hit side has been able to keep racking up the wins – their fourth in 11 days – following last week’s Carabao Cup triumph.

    “How the boys fought through that is really special,” he added. “The fourth game was the toughest. It was really an unbelievable effort. The boys put in a proper, proper shift.”

    Forest were incensed by referee Paul Tierney’s decision to hand the ball to Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher after halting play while the home side were in possession for an apparent head injury to Ibrahima Konate shortly before the visitors’ winner.

    Home players and staff surrounded Tierney at the final whistle – coach Steven Reid was shown a red card – while Forest later dismissed reports that club owner Evangelos Marinakis had to be restrained by security staff in the tunnel.

    Forest’s referee analyst Mark Clattenburg claimed after the match that the game’s rules state Tierney should have handed possession back to Forest.

    Manager Nuno Espirito Santo refused to comment on the incident, but could not hide his disappointment.

    Anthony Elanga spurned Forest’s best two chances, foiled in a first-half one-on-one by Kelleher before firing narrowly wide from Harry Toffolo’s cross after the interval.

    “Not only that, it was the final pass, in the right moment,” Nuno said. “We will keep trying. We will repeat on the training ground until we get it right.

    “But we limited them very well. We controlled the middle of the park, always covering ourselves, the wingers helping the full-backs, controlling the box and when we had the ball we had the right idea – we go forward.

    “We had moments of good football, but took nothing from the game, so it’s tough to take because our fans deserve to go home after a game like today happy, but they’re not, so we will try.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.