Tuesday October 1 2013
Benitez: 'Confidence was key'

Rafa Benitez maintains Napoli cannot have a suitable Gonzalo Higuain replacement, but “confidence” was key against Arsenal.

The Partenopei lost Higuain to a last-minute fitness test in their 2-0 defeat at the Emirates, conceding twice in the opening 15 minutes.

“We started very badly, they scored two goals and everything changed,” Benitez told Sky Sport Italia.

“We lost our confidence, the second half was a bit better, but it’s tough to come back from 2-0 against Arsenal in the Champions League.

“Clearly when you buy a player of Higuain’s level, you cannot have another on his level. We tried a few other things, tried to play ball to feet, but we didn’t have much chance to test it out because there wasn’t any space.

“I don’t think there are two different Napolis. Higuain is an important player and clearly with him on the field we play differently, but we won at Genoa with Goran Pandev.

“It was a possibility to lose here. Now we have to concentrate on the next game.”

Borussia Dortmund beat Olympique Marseille 3-0, so Arsenal now lead Group F on six points with Borussia and Napoli on three points each.

“I can guarantee we told the players the opening 20 minutes would be very fiery. We knew they’d come out at us with pace, but these two goals made the difference.

“We made mistakes, I don’t know if they were down to inexperience or what, but you pay for mistakes at this level.

“We tried to change things in the second half, but if you don’t score then the belief you can turn it around won’t come.”