Napoli Boss Maurizio Sarri Pleased With Youngsters After 'Dominating' Real Madrid

Published on: 07 March 2017

Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri said that he was pleased with how his young side coped against Real Madrid during their 3-1Champions League exit at theStadio San Paolo on Tuesday night.

A well-taken goal by in-form attacker Dries Mertens just before the half-hour mark brought the aggregate score to 3-2 in favour of the visitors, butput the Italian side withinjust one goal from securing their first ever place in the quarter finals of thecompetition.

The lead was no more than the Serie A youngsters deserved - who had chances to double it on several occasions during the opening 45 minutes of which they were very much the strongest side.

But two second-half set-piece headers in quicksuccessionby Los Blancos captain Sergio Ramoswasenoughto end the resurgence of Napoli who conceded again in stoppage time to Alvaro Morata.

Madrid advanced 6-2 on aggregate in the end, but the Light Blues' boss was impressed with how the future looks followinghis side'sperformed against one of Europe's elite.

"We get the feeling we are not that far off [the top clubs]," Sarri toldMediaset Premium.

"We dominated the best team in the world for 55 minutes.

"If we can grow, become more physical, then we can become competitive at this level too.

"It's a young squad, it has a bright future ahead of it. That final step is the hardest, but I get the feeling we can do it.

"Real Madrid are a very strong side; you need a lot of luck to keep the tie open and a bit of luck on the post to put us 2-0 up would have given us more fuel.

"It would have been tough anyway against the reigning champions of Europe and the world, but dominating them for 55 minutes gives us hope for the future."

Napoli captain Marek Hamsik was the hero of the first-half, but very much the villain of the second.

The 29-year-old beautifully set-up Mertens for the opener, but then was at fault for conceding the corner from which Ramos equalised after sloppy play in a dangerous defensive area.

However, theSlovakian insisted the Serie A side should not focus on the negatives, but be proud of their impressive display in the competition this season.

"We leave the Champions League with heads held high", the midfieldersaid.

"In the first half we proved that we can play it out with one of the best teams in the world.

"It's a shame that we conceded the goals on set plays. We can fight it out with the biggest clubs and that is a starting point.

"Now we must concentrate on Serie A and the Coppa Italia, which are two objectives. From tomorrow [Wednesday] we will think about Crotone.

"One thing is for sure “ we need to improve on corners."

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