Rafa Benitez admits Napoli can see their point away to Cagliari as “a bad result” and blamed the pitch.
“In all honesty, it was difficult to play and move the ball around quickly on a horrible pitch,” he told Sky Sport Italia after a 1-1 draw at the Stadio Sant’Elia .
“We created more chances than Cagliari, but it was not sufficient, as we should’ve scored two or three goals.
“It was a very important match for Cagliari in front of their fans. In theory a draw here is not a bad result, but it is for us because we’re chasing the top of the table, even though it was very difficult here.
“The ball did not roll evenly, so we had to go for long passes and this created a gap between attack and midfield.
“Cagliari had few scoring opportunities and the defence was strong tonight. If anything, we were lacking in attack rather than defence.”
Christian Maggio’s howler allowed Nene to score the opening goal before Gonzalo Higuain equalised with a penalty.
“The ball was not bouncing properly and Maggio thought it would bounce more, but it didn’t and he lost control of it.”
Napoli now risk going into the Christmas break 10 points behind Serie A leaders Juventus and eight adrift of Roma.
“The only thing I am worried about is seeing the team continue to grow. We know there will be Juventus-Roma in January, so we must focus only on our own results. We have one more point than we did yesterday.
“We are doing better than last season even after playing the Champions League, so what more can we do? There are bound to be occasional mistakes, but this team is growing,” continued Benitez.
“Every game is the most important and Serie A is a marathon. When you reach 30km, many people hit the wall, but we must keep going.
“Cagliari are a tough opponent and the pitch made it difficult to move the ball around quickly, but I thought I saw the right mentality.”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition  - £5,000 monthly.