Napoli defeated Benfica 2-1 at the Estadio da Luz on Tuesday night to clinch a spot in the UEFA Champion League’s round of 16.
Napoli finished first place in Group B with the win. Despite the loss, Benfica also advanced with a second place finish. After the match, Napoli Manager Maurizio Sarri spoke to Premium Sport about the club’s achievement.
“We had already been distracted by another game’s result once; this time we cared little of the other match [Dynamo Kyiv vs. Besiktas]. We wanted first place in the group because Napoli had never obtained it. We did well in the first half; then they slowed down and in the second half we had a lot of chances. I feel bad only for the goal we conceded at the end. The defense deserved to finish with a clean sheet. The work of our fullbacks halted their wingers; we knew that they could be dangerous.”
Premium Sport asked Sarri how he felt about seeing Napoli join the other big European clubs after finishing first in the group:
“It seems that the advantage of finishing in first place is little. It was for our satisfaction because we were convinced that we played the best football in the group. We messed up in only one game. The team expressed itself well, even when we had some draws.”
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Sarri also spoke about the growth of his team in the opening round of the Champions League:
“I don’t know if the team is more ready now for the knockout stages. Surely, the team has understood that at this level you pay for the slightest error. That was even seen tonight. The ingenuity on their goal makes us understand that here, you absolutely can’t make any mistakes. Even with Besiktas we lost an incredible match, lost because of three errors. Of course, tonight there were players on the pitch born 1997, 1995 and 1994, so it’s clear that this team cannot consider itself an expert.”
The partenopei will now wait for the Champions League draw on Friday, which will determine the club’s opponent in the first knockout round. Meanwhile, Napoli will be looking ahead to their match against Cagliari on Sunday in Serie A play.