Fired-up Napoli to tighten grip


MILAN. — Fired-up Napoli are looking to build on their impressive start to the season under Rafael Benitez with a win at ailing AC Milan tomorrow that would tighten their grip on thwe Italian Serie A soccer table.Benitez’s side returned to the Champions League group stages for the first time since their only other appearance, in 2012, on Wednesday and ran out 2-1 winners over 10-man Borussia Dortmund, last year’s beaten finalists.

Napoli share the lead of Italy’s top flight with AS Roma, who will go top if they secure at least a draw in the derby against Lazio in Sunday’s evening game.

But after their runner-up place behind Juventus last season, many feel Napoli can claim a first title since their second scudetto in 1990 when Diego Maradona still played at the club.

The Neapolitans undoubtedly benefited on Wednesday after Dortmund had goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller red-carded on the stroke of half-time at the San Paolo.

But with three wins in as many league games and after their lightning start in Europe, the signs so far suggest forwards Gonzalo Higuain, Lorenzo Insigne, Jose Callejon, Goran Pandev and the league’s top scorer, Marek Hamsik, are blossoming under Benitez. Higuain, who opened the scoring just before the half hour, seems reborn since he joined Napoli following an unhappy spell at Real Madrid and suggested Benitez should be credited.

“We have a great team, a great coach and I hope we can go on like this,” the Argentine told Sky Sport Italia.
“A striker likes to feel he is important and know he has the faith of the coach.” — AFP.

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