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Napoli defeated Sampdoria 2-1 on Saturday night at the Stadio San Paolo with a late comeback.

Manolo Gabbiadini came off the bench to pull back a goal in the 77th minute to make it 1-1. Then, in his Napoli debut, Lorenzo Tonelli scored the game-winning goal in the 95th minute.

Napoli Manager Maurizio Sarri spoke to Sky Sport after the match about the differences between the two halves. The coach said the first half struggle was caused by multiple factors.

“In the first half we lost many balls and this was due to several things,” Sarri said. “The first is that they [Sampdoria] came to pressure us very high. Then, the pitch was not in great condition and we gave our opponents an extra second [to get a step ahead of us.] The third cause is very hard work that was done in the week [in practice], which took away a bit of brilliance.”

However, Sarri said he was happy with the grit of his team in the second half.

“I’m happy because the guys played with no regard for anyone else and determination,” Sarri said. “In the second half, there were nine chances we could have scored. I liked the fact that the team was mentally capable of believing in winning despite not being able to play our style of football due to the field. From the point of view of order in the field we did well. In the last minutes there were also four forwards on the pitch.”

In regards to Tonelli’s debut, Sarri said it was all about patience.

“He had patience,” Sarri said. “But, we also had a lot of patience because until September he had not trained with us due to physical problems. In the last few months he has made enormous progress. “I’ve seen him well over the past 10 days and so, I had the feeling he was ready to play. It’s been a couple of games that I had that feeling in my head, and tonight it seemed to me the right time.”

During the match, Matias Silvestre received a red card after picking up two yellow cards in the second half. Sampdoria President Massimo Ferrero and manager Marco Giampaolo were both upset with the referee’s decision. After the match, the two made comments about the call and expressed their anger. Sarri said he understands their frustration, but claimed there were other moments that could have been worse for their club.

“I understand both, being one that is myself naturally pissed off,” Sarri said. “They are my friends, but there was a very dubious challenge on Callejon. There was the takedown of Mertens that could have also lead to another expulsion.”

Sarri’s squad bumped their point total to 38 with the win. The result allowed Napoli to move up to second place, tied with Roma for the moment. The rest of the Serie A clubs will play on Sunday, including Roma, Lazio and AC Milan who are around Napoli in the standings.

The partenopei will play Spezia in Coppa Italia competition on Tuesday, Jan. 10. Then, the team will play Pescara at home again next week on Sunday, Jan. 15. Both matches will be featured at the San Paolo.


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