Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola won 2-1, but was bowled over by Maurizio Sarri. “As a player first and then a Coach, I have never faced a side like Napoli.”
The hosts dominated the opening 30 minutes and went 2-0 up, but Dries Mertens had a penalty saved by Ederson and Amadou Diawara’s spot-kick made it a tense finale.
“I expected difficulties for us. It was the game we expected, for them to make lots of short passes, to press really, really high,” Guardiola told Mediaset Premium in perfect Italian, after his days at Brescia and Roma.
“As a player first and then as a Coach, I have never faced a side like Napoli. Never.
“If they play at this level, then they can go far. I am so very proud of my players, because I know how tough this performance was and you cannot dominate a side like Napoli for 90 minutes. It’s impossible.
“It is a great victory for us and important, because Shakhtar Donetsk are really strong and so are Napoli.”
Guardiola was asked why Manchester City were less dominant in the second half.
“Did you think we were playing against a bunch of kids? This was Napoli! They are top of Serie A, you can’t dominate them for 90 minutes.
“We were very proud to do that for 30 minutes, but because we won 7-2 at the weekend, some reporters thought we’d win 7-2 again the next game. It doesn’t work like that.”