close
close
great4

Serie A: Napoli’s European hopes were dampened by a 1-0 defeat to Empoli

Napoli’s hopes of playing European football next season suffered a setback when they suffered a frustrating 1-0 defeat to lowly Empoli to leave them eighth in Serie A on Saturday.

Empoli, who are battling relegation, opened the scoring after four minutes when striker Alberto Cerri headed in a cross from close range for what turned out to be the winner.

Serie A will secure at least five places in an expanded Champions League competition next season, but Napoli have taken just five points from their last five league matches.

Napoli remain on 49 points, three points behind Lazio in sixth place, six points behind AS Roma, in fifth place with two games to go, and ten points behind fourth-place Bologna, who visit Roma on Monday.

Empoli are 15th with 31 points, four points ahead of the drop zone.

“It is clear that Napoli had notorious problems this season. “I honestly didn’t expect to find the situation like this,” said coach Francesco Calzona of the Naples club DAZN.

“By playing every three days we have managed to hide some problems, but this team must do more. We owe it to the city, to the club that pays our wages.”

Calzona acknowledged the challenge of securing European competition for next season in light of the poor results.

“It is clear that if we do not win games or even lose games, it is difficult to think about achieving this goal,” he said.

“We must try in every possible way to honor the jersey, give more and, above all, start stronger.”

READ ALSO | Chelsea stuns holders Barcelona 1-0 in the first leg of the Women’s Champions League semi-final

EMPOLI DOMINANT

Empoli dominated much of the first half after Cerri’s goal and came close to doubling their lead when Nicolo Cambiaghi hit the post just before half-time.

In the second period, Napoli continued to try to find an equalizer, but failed to create clear openings as Empoli’s defense dug in.

Napoli winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia came close just after the hour mark as he weaved his way past several defenders to create an opening, but his shot went over the crossbar.

After the match, Calzona apologized to the traveling fans and took responsibility for the result.

“The approach to the match was brutal from Empoli, while we were slow from the start,” he said.

“We were timid and this is unthinkable, but the responsibility lies with me because apparently I was not able to express to them my desire to go as far as possible.

“We apologize to the fans for this poor end to the season.”

Related Articles

Back to top button