Napoli crushed by Samp after Ancelotti tinkers

Reuters, MILAN, Italy

Tue, Sep 04, 2018 - Page 16

Serie A title hopefuls SSC Napoli on Sunday were thumped 3-0 at UC Sampdoria after coach Carlo Ancelotti tinkered with the team, dropping captain Marek Hamsik and forward Jose Callejon.

Gregoire Defrel scored two first-half goals to put Sampdoria in command and, although Napoli improved after the break, Fabio Quagliarella added a third with an outrageous flick in the 75th minute.

A low cross was sent into the penalty area and the 35-year-old forward, at the near post, diverted it into the net with the back of his heel.

Last season’s runners-up Napoli, who came from behind to win both their first two games, have six points from three matches.

Maurizio Sarri, Ancelotti’s predecessor, was publicly criticized by club president Aurelio de Laurentiis last season for failing to rotate the team.

Even so, it was a bold move by Ancelotti as Hamsik had appeared in every Serie A match since April 2015, while Callejon had started their past 54 league games, but it quickly backfired as Defrel, who managed one league goal for Roma last season, collected a pass from Riccardo Saponara and rifled a long-range shot between David Ospina and his near post in the 11th minute.

Defrel, cleverly set up by Quagliarella, added the second just after the half hour with a shot which took a deflection off Raul Albiol and sneaked past Ospina.

Ancelotti sent on Adam Ounas and Dries Mertens in the second half and although Napoli improved markedly, they were floored by Quagliarella’s typically flamboyant effort as Sampdoria completed their first win over Napoli since 2010.

“We started this game the same way we started the first two, but this time we couldn’t turn things around,” said Ancelotti, who has returned to Serie A after a nine-year absence. “We gifted them the first half with our attitude.”

He would not accept that the absence of Hamsik and Callejon was the cause of the problem.

“In that case, it would just be my fault, but our problem was our overall attitude,” he said.

Elsewhere, US Sassuolo scored four goals in 11 minutes before halftime on their way to a 5-3 win over Genoa which left them in second place with seven points, two behind league leaders Juventus.

Krzysztof Piatek gave Genoa the lead in the 27th minute, but Kevin Prince Boateng, Pol Lirola, Khouma Babacar and a bizarre own-goal by Nicolas Spolli put the hosts in complete control.

Babacar’s shot appeared to be going to wide, but Spolli stopped it with one foot, only to knock it over the line with the other.

Gian Marco Ferrari scored a fifth after the hour mark before Goran Pandev and Piatek pulled two back.