Luciano Spalletti strongly criticized the referee for making some errors and injustices during the match, claiming that the penalty that was not given was clear and should not have been missed
After suffering a 1-0 loss in the first leg to an Ismael Bennacer goal, Napoli were adamant to keep Champions League heartbreak from happening in Naples. However, despite Napoli being uplifted by Alex Meret’s save on Olivier Giroud’s penalty early on, the Frenchman managed to score later on by tapping in Rafael Leao’s run from his own half.
Partenopei had a penalty of their own in the second half which was saved by Mike Maignan as Kvaratskhelia failed to score. Napoli managed to fight back very late on with Victor Osimhen’s diving header. But it was too late for Napoli to turn the tie.
“First of all, we congratulate Milan on their qualification. They played two games in which they made the most of their chances, which is the sign of a mature team that knows when to press the accelerator and when to defend in numbers,” Spalletti told Mediaset.
“I also want to compliment my players, as our Champions League campaign was played at a very high level. We paid for a few naïve moments, we paid for lack of experience in dealing with moments of the match.
“Some of our players who came back from international duty were struggling, especially Osimhen who was out for 20 days after that injury. Then a few errors and a few injustices.”
Napoli keep their unbeaten run going
This was Napoli’s third game against Milan in the span of 16 days, having lost 4-0 to them in Serie A on April 2 and 1-0 in the first leg of the quarter-final. Could these successive matches have derailed Napoli’s strong season?
“No, because we took the initiative both in Milan and here. We were in fantastic shape before the break for international duty, then when we returned there were so many players out of action for that game with Milan. Perhaps the result in Turin made us believe the league was a formality, so we weren’t as focused in that 4-0 result. However, the two Champions League games were totally different.
“It’s true they missed a penalty, but it was also an avoidable incident. We conceded an avoidable goal, as we were balanced and controlling the ball when allowing them to overturn the whole situation. They scored their only real move into our box and we were unable to do the same.”
Napoli managed to maintain their unbeaten record at home in the Champions League, which now extends to 13 games. However, Spalletti had expressed his anger about the refereeing in the first leg, which resulted in the suspension of Andre Frank Zambo Anguissa and Kim Min-jae for this game.
Spalletti praised his side’s performance against Milan
Despite the appointment of Szymon Marciniak, who had previously refereed the World Cup final, Spalletti was still dissatisfied with the officiating, particularly the sliding tackle from Leao on Lozano.
“Everyone agreed, except those wearing the Milan jersey, that the referee made mistakes in the first leg. There was a penalty today, clear as day, on Lozano where you see from the replays that the ankle moves and he never gets the ball. It’s the clearest penalty, you cannot fail to see that. It is not contact, that is a foul, otherwise his ankle would turn like that. It risks a sprain of the ankle. You cannot fail to see that.
“But then people say we complain… The penalty we gave away was naïve, this was also a clear penalty.”
Kvaratskhelia, Chucky Lozano, and Matteo Politano were too easy to anticipate, as they would often cut inside and attempt a curled shot rather than providing crosses for Osimhen.
“We had 16 corners, so we put the crosses in, we just didn’t get on the end of them properly. This thing of cutting inside to the stronger foot does give us opportunities at the back post, we scored many goals like that this season, as the full-back has to cut in.
“Kvaratskhelia found himself 20 times in one against one situations and Calabria did really well. He created chances, firing over the bar and forcing the situation, but that’s how it went.”