Crotone Coach Walter Zenga was “genuinely astonished” that they did not receive a penalty against Napoli. “I can’t explain it.”
Although Federico Ceccherini had a penalty appeal in stoppages waved away for seeking contact with Christian Maggio, there was another controversial incident on 65 minutes.
A corner was whipped to the near post and Mertens charged it down with his upper arm. Although his arm was flush with the torso, there did seem to be some movement towards the ball.
“I just arrived in Italy and was already suspended for protesting. I’ll therefore let the images speak for themselves and ask only for clarification on how VAR actually works,” Zenga told Mediaset Premium after the 1-0 defeat.
“I think it’s pretty clear that there was handball and a penalty. We may well have lost anyway, it was at the 65th minute, but it does leave a bitter taste in the mouth.
“The fourth official said the VAR referees did the silent check and evaluated it was not a penalty. I saw the images on my phone. At that moment, a penalty could’ve made a big difference to the game. They told me it wasn’t a penalty, but then watching it, one has to wonder how even VAR can’t consider that a penalty.
“I am genuinely astonished. I can’t explain it. I’m not saying it would’ve changed the outcome, but we are fighting against relegation and these incidents can make a difference even just to the team’s morale and self-confidence.”
For all the possession Napoli enjoyed at the Stadio Scida, they only just scraped the victory.
“We started with tight lines and 4-4-2, then when we went under, we moved back to our usual 4-3-3, but had problems getting Rolando Mandragora into space.
“Napoli have such quality, especially when finding space between the lines and finding each other with quick passes, they break through any pressing game you create. You are therefore forced to go deep and run backwards. Napoli will remain in the Scudetto race to the end.”