Sunday March 23 2014
Benitez: 'Napoli still better with 10'

Rafa Benitez admits “it is more difficult now” for second place, but felt Napoli “were still better with 10 men” than Fiorentina.

Joaquin netted with a late header at the San Paolo, though Faouzi Ghoulam saw red before the break.

“I have to compliment my players on the way they expressed themselves in this match,” said Benitez in his Press conference.

“We did very well and had many scoring opportunities, as even down to 10 we wanted to score. It’s a shame it went like this, but the players gave their all.

“We were still better with 10 men than Fiorentina. That’s why I didn’t make many changes. They put Juan Cuadrado on the right and so I adjusted some things to have more freshness at the back.

“I don’t talk about referees, so it’s down to you to comment and nothing changes anyway. Now I am focused on the next game.

“I think it is bad luck that we aren’t taking our chances at the moment, as we have quality and Fiorentina’s goalkeeper did well tonight.

“I continue to have faith and am still targeting Roma in second place. Of course it’s a concern the gap has opened up to six points, but we have to do our duty and see what happens. When we play like this, we have to win.”

Dries Mertens came off the bench and lasted under 10 minutes before he was carried away.

“It’s a sprained ankle, we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to evaluate it better.”

Gonzalo Higuain was irritable throughout and seemed very angry when he was substituted, as it was still 0-0.

“He was angry at what happened during the game, not at the substitution,” assured Benitez.