Rafa Benitez saw a “positive reaction” from Napoli and believes they can knock Roma out of the Coppa Italia.
“For the fans of both teams and neutrals it was a wonderful spectacle,” he told Rai Sport after a 3-2 Roma victory.
“I compliment Gervinho for scoring two great goals, but I hope he doesn’t score in the second leg. I think now Italian football has a lot of innovative Coaches who will do well for the image of the sport.”
This was the first leg of the semi-final and the decider is at the Stadio San Paolo on February 2. The Partenopei had been 2-0 down at half-time, but fought back to 2-2 until Gervinho’s late winner.
“The positive aspect is the reaction of the team, though it was not positive to concede two in the first half.
“The side showed character to fight back and kept positive. Roma had some very fast forwards and it was not easy to defend against them.
“It was tough as the passes were very quick, so hard to defend against. The third goal was particularly difficult, as we didn’t have time to react. The first goal was offside. It was clear, I don’t have to say anything.
“We think we can win the second leg and if we do that then we can reach the Final. A 1-0 could be sufficient. It’s a great shame we conceded the third goal, but our reaction was very, very positive.
“This Napoli is a new team with many new players and to be doing so well is impressive, in my view. I believe we are on the right path to grow.”
President Aurelio De Laurentiis went into the locker room at half-time, but Benitez insisted he didn’t speak to the players.
“He just watched, I spoke to the squad.”
Marek Hamsik is still far from his top form after two months out with injury problems.
“He is a very important player for us and I’m happy with his work-rate, though of course I am waiting for the real Marek to return and to get there he needs to play.”