Walter Mazzarri felt Christian Maggio’s injury was the turning point and Napoli “lacked experience, but our Champions League campaign was fantastic.”
The Partenopei hoped to reach the quarter-finals when winning the first leg 3-1, but that was wiped out at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea progressed 5-4 on aggregate in extra time.
“It is a shame to go out like this,” said the Coach. “In terms of sheer performance, we created three or four scoring opportunities when it was still goalless. From Maggio’s injury onwards, we realised things were taking a turn for the worse.
“They did better than us on set plays. We couldn’t do any more than attempt man-marking, as they were physically much stronger in the air. We did concede a few too many corners, though, and we knew that would be dangerous.
“We lacked a little experience and still need to grow. Chelsea were clinical, as is to be expected from a team packed with world class players. Unfortunately we were a little unlucky with some of our chances.”
However, having qualified from a group including Bayern Munich and Manchester City, then gone within extra time of reaching the quarter-finals against Chelsea, Mazzarri can only be proud.
“After 21 years we managed to equal the record set by Diego Maradona’s Napoli. We are proud of that. Our Champions League campaign was fantastic. We flew through the group phase and I’d give us eight out of 10 considering what was expected of us at the start of the season.
“There were naive mistakes due to our lack of experience. We had almost everything to lose and it was understandable to make errors in this fiery atmosphere, yet we wasted so many chances against a side that before tonight hadn’t conceded on home turf.
“What can I say? We were in any case fantastic in the Champions League. The lads gave their all and in the locker room I tried to boost their morale.”