Empoli 2-1 Napoli; Player ratings; Zielinski's wonder goal not enough for Napoli as they limp to defeat at Empoli

03 April at 20:58
Napoli limped to defeat away at Empoli, after manager Carlo Ancelotti made a number of changes. Napoli lacked any sort of cohesion or creativity against a spirited Empoli side, who impressed from the start and deservedly took all three points.
 
Empoli had the better of the first half, and the Tuscan side took the lead midway through the first period when Farias’ shot was deflected past Meret by Zielinski. Napoli drew level just before the end of the half when Zielinksi combined with his compatriot Milik before hammering home a right footed shot from outside the area.
 
Empoli found themselves ahead again early in the second half when Di Lorenzo found himself unmarked from a corner and glanced a header into the goal. The game really opened up after that as Napoli pressed for an equaliser, but it was Empoli that had the lion’s share of chances, as Napoli looked very vulnerable at the back. Despite some late pressure from Napoli, Provedel was rarely tested and Empoli hung on to claim a vital three points.
 
 
 
Napoli Ratings:
 
Meret – 6 – Made a great save from Caputo in the first half. Had no chance with Empoli’s first goal which was deflected past him, but he should have done better with Empoli’s second. Made a number of saves in the second half which kept Napoli in the game.
Malcuit – 5.5 – A difficult evening for the Frenchman, as he struggled to cope defensively at times, and didn’t offer much going forwards. Almost all of Empoli’s threat came down his flank and he was replaced in the 76th minute.
Luperto – 6.5 – Didn’t look entirely convincing against his old club, as Napoli’s defence struggled to cope with the movement of the Empoli frontline, but looked more composed as the game went on.
Koulibaly – 6 – Not up to his normal standards, he was sloppy in possession and less imposing defensively than usual. He looked tired, which, with so much football coming up this month will be a worry for Napoli.
Rui – 6.5 – Probably Napoli’s brightest spark in the first half, where he got forward well and whipped a couple of dangerous balls into the box. Less of a threat in the second half.
Callejon – 7 – Did well down the right, without affecting the game in any great way. Always works hard but sometimes tends to drift in and out of games.
Allan – 6.5 – Was overrun at times in the middle of the park, and definitely looked as if he was missing Fabian in the first half as the Napoli midfield struggled with creativity. Guilty of losing the ball a few too many times.
Zielinski – 7 – Inexplicably turned his back on the ball for Empoli’s goal but made amends with a smashing equaliser that he rifled home from outside the box. Missed a great chance to equalise for a second time.
Younes – 6 – Didn’t grasp his opportunity as he made a rare start. Hooked off early in the second half after an ineffective performance, despite making a bright start to the game.
Milik – 6.5 –Didn’t get the service he usually thrives upon, and as a result was little more than a passenger for most of the game. Looked a bit more of a danger after Mertens came on to give him support.
Ounas – 5.5 – Had a great chance to give Napoli the lead just before half time but dragged his shot wide. Apart from that he was anonymous and was replaced in the 57th minute
 
Mertens (57th min) – 7 – Made a difference when he came on, he injected some dynamism into the Napoli front line which was desperately lacking until his introduction.
Fabian (57th min) – 6 – Never really got to grips with the game after coming on.
Verdi (76th min) – 6 – Had little impact on the game.
 

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