Napoli boss lashes out at ‘unworthy’ pitch


Milan (AFP) – Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri slammed the “unworthy” pitch at Crotone after a precious 2-1 victory saw his side back to winning ways despite Manolo Gabbiadini’s first-half sending-off.

Crotone’s promotion to Italy’s top flight at the end of last season came with an unwelcome surprise — in structural terms their stadium did not meet Serie A criteria. 

After playing three home games this season at the stadium of league rivals Pescara during refurbishment of their usual home, basement side Crotone finally welcomed their first guests to their Ezio Scida stadium on Sunday.

Sarri though was unimpressed: “It was Crotone’s first real home game and because we won I can say this: this pitch is unworthy of professional football.”

Napoli travelled to Calabria on the back of two league defeats, to Atalanta and Roma, and a shock reverse to Besiktas that has compromised their last-16 qualifying chances in the Champions League.

After taking a 17th-minute lead thanks to Jose Callejon, the visitors were made to work for the win after Gabbiadini earned a straight red card for lashing out at Gianmarco Ferrari following a foul from behind.

Napoli doubled their lead only moments after the incident, which saw players from both teams involved in a melee, when Nikola Maksimovic bundled home at the far post from a corner. 

Aleandro Rosi’s 89th-minute consolation added some unwelcome pressure late on but Napoli held on for a precious win to move to within four points of leaders Juventus, shock 1-0 losers at AC Milan on Saturday.

Sarri refused to say too much about Gabbiadini, 24.

The striker was hauled off during a mediocre performance against Roma and made slight amends coming off the bench to hit a penalty during the defeat to Besiktas.

“Manolo just has to relax a little and focus on playing,” said Sarri.

“He’s a very good player, we all have faith in him and he just needs to find his feet again. 

“If I am asked any more questions about Gabbiadini, I won’t answer because I don’t want any more pressure on the lad.”

Crotone remain rooted to bottom spot with one point from nine games.

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