Luciano Spalletti lamented the ‘unfair’ sacking of Frank Anguissa as Napoli took another absentee kick in Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final defeat to AC Milan.
The Napoli midfielder was sacked for two penalty violations within four minutes of the second half as a 40th-minute strike from Ismael Bennacer proved the difference in Milan’s 1-0 victory at the San Siro.
Spalletti was no longer with injured striker Victor Osimhen and his replacement, Giovanni Simeone, and Anguissa’s suspension added another name to Napoli’s growing list of absentees.
The Napoli manager was unimpressed by referee Istvan Kovac’s decisions but insisted the Serie A leaders had worthy replacements ahead of next week’s second leg in Naples.
“I have nothing to say, commenting after matches is a waste of time, there is no turning back,” Spalletti told Sky Sport.
“At the moment, every absence is a blow to us, but we have someone who will replace him. So it was throughout the season, otherwise we would not have the results that we have achieved.
“We trust the group, but it’s a pity that we won’t have Angissa, because I think it’s unfair … He was planned to be replaced, I was looking for someone to take out in three substitutions, the third was not enough for me.
“Too bad he played two more minutes while I made my decision. I will think about what I did, the referee does not comment, (UEFA refereeing committee chairman Roberto) Rosetti will do it.
“From what I’ve seen, Angissa gets a lot of ball… Let’s look at the yellow card of Piotr Zielinski and the card that (Rade) Krunic didn’t get.”
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Milan caused problems for Napoli twice within 10 days, beating Parthenopei 4-0 in Serie A before beating Spalletti’s team in Europe.
Stefano Pioli’s men are the only side to have beaten Napoli more than once this season, with two of Partenopeia’s five defeats coming to Milan.
The Rossoneri are also the only team to have prevented Napoli from scoring in more than one match this season, while Milan have scored six goals against Spalletti’s team this season – twice as many as any other team.
However, Spalletti was still pleased with what his team offered and applauded the efforts of Milan goalkeeper Mike Meignan, who made an impressive five saves.
He added: “We were in a great mood, I congratulate the team on how they tried to play the game, even outnumbering them. And congratulations to Menyan.
Milan advanced from seven of their previous nine two-legged Champions League play-off fixtures after winning the first leg, while they lost only one of 10 all-Italian matches in Europe.
However, Napoli captain Di Lorenzo remains confident as Pioli’s men arrive at Diego Armando Maradona’s stadium for the second leg on Tuesday.
The Italian international told Amazon Prime Video: “We have a quality team to get through, you need to win at home, we hope there will be a good atmosphere this year as always.”