April 18, 2021

Napoli defender Koulibaly shifts focus to Serie A top four after Europa League exit

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Thursday’s win was not enough to help Gennaro Gattuso’s side advance to the Round of 16 of the European competition

Kalidou Koulibaly has expressed his disappointment after Napoli bowed out of the Uefa Europa League with a 3-2 aggregate loss to Granada on Thursday.

The Serie A club lost the first leg in Spain by 2-0, however, Piotr Zielinski got them off to flying start with his third-minute opener at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

Montoro compounded Napoli’s woes after scoring an equaliser for Granada in the 25th minute.

Fabian Ruiz restored the Parthenopeans’ lead on the night just before the hour-mark but the effort was not enough despite their 2-1 victory.

Koulibaly, in his reaction, believes they could have done more to overturn the result in a tense encounter that saw 11 yellow cards handed out.

“We are disappointed, as we could’ve done more,” Koulibaly was quoted by Football Italia. “It was difficult after the 2-0 first-leg defeat, conceding the equaliser today knocked the wind out of us, but we still tried to the end

“We wanted to go forward in the competition and going out today is painful. We saw once again that Granada played with everyone behind the ball.”

The exit dealt a blow to Napoli’s chances of securing a title this season as they are also out of the Coppa Italia.

With their sights set on returning to the Uefa Champions League, Koulibaly has urged his teammates to give their all in the Italian top-flight.

The Senegalese centre-back continued: “There are no more excuses now. Our objective is to get back into the Champions League and we must do everything to get into the top four. It’s simply too important for us, we have to reach the top four at all costs.”

They are seventh on the Serie A table with 40 points from 22 matches, and are currently four points adrift of fourth-placed Roma.

The top-four battle will continue when Napoli host Benevento for their next league fixture on Sunday evening.