Spalletti laments Napoli’s lack of experience in hard-fought Champions League final against AC Milan

    Luciano Spalletti has expressed regret over Napoli’s inexperience and the health problems that cost him dearly after Milan kicked him out of the Champions League on Tuesday.

    A late strike from Victor Osimhen wiped out Olivier Giroud’s first in the second leg of the quarter-final, but a 1-1 draw in Naples saw Milan lose 2-1 on aggregate after a 1-0 win in the first leg last week .

    Spalletti was quick to pay tribute to a determined Milan, but suggested that the problem was Napoli’s lack of experience, coupled with health issues after Osimhen returned from injury, missing the first leg.

    The Napoli manager told Mediaset: “We congratulate Milan on this qualification, it must be done because they played two games and managed to make the most of their opportunities.

    “This is a sign of a mature team, players who know how to choose the moments: when to press the gas, and when to defend with the whole team.

    “But I also want to congratulate my players. We have played the Champions League campaign at the highest level and we had a good match today.

    “We paid for a little inexperience in reading match moments.

    “We’ve played different players with a bit of fatigue, starting with Osimhen, who hasn’t played for twenty days.”

    Napoli have failed to make progress in four of their five Champions League knockout stages and their only success came in this season’s round of 16 match against Eintracht Frankfurt.

    Spalletti’s team have also not won their last three matches in all competitions (D2 L1), having lost only three of the previous 16 games (W13 D1 L2).

    The Scudetto will likely still follow Napoli, who lead the Serie A summit by 14 points, but Spalletti admitted that his side slipped away after feeling too comfortable after winning in Turin on 19 March.

    He added: “We weren’t good enough in the box to score, like they did the only time they got in the goal.

    “We were in good condition, both mentally and physically (in the first half), then after the break we found players out of shape and forced us to press several times.

    “The league win over Torino made us believe that the championship was a formality. In those two games, we did things completely differently.”

    After seeing Franck Anguissa sacked in the first leg, in which a strike from Ismael Bennacer proved the difference in Milan’s 1–0 win, Spalletti was left disappointed by referee Istvan Kovacs.

    Spalletti once again expressed his dissatisfaction with the refereeing, suggesting that Szymon Marchiniak should have awarded a first-half penalty for Rafael Leao’s tackle on Hirving Lozano.

    “Today in the 37th minute, Lozano scored a clear penalty, very clearly, his ankle just twisted,” he continued.

    “You can see it very well in the replays. You risk twisting his ankle. It’s a penalty not to be missed.”

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