Italy’s papers were awash with reports of Napoli’s demise at Stamford Bridge this morning.
Chelsea ran out 4-1 winners as Didier Drogba, John Tery and Frank Lampard took the game into extra time after Gokhan Inler's long-range strike briefly put the visitors in control.
With the game in extra-time Branislav Ivanovic found himself unmarked in the penalty area to slam home Didier Drogba’s low cross and almost take the roof off of Stamford Bridge, while Napoli’s talented team sat slumped on the floor come the final whistle.
Often praised as one of the finest attacking sides, Walter Mazarri’s side were let down gently by the Italian press as they squandered a two goal first leg lead to succumb to a 4-1 defeat last night.
“Thank you Napoli, you really tried” wept the front page of La Gazzetta dello Sport that was adorned with a leaping image of Didier Drogba after scoring the game’s opener.
“Cavani and friends beaten in London and out at the last 16,” the front page read. Azzurri held on with Inler and the 3-1 first leg lead, but in extra time Ivanovic sent Chelsea through."
Mazzarri bemoaned his sides ‘naivety’ in the game while the Napoli boss also branded his side ‘unlucky’ as they crashed out at the last 16 stage.
Corriere dello Sport led with a similar angle, praising Napoli’s valiancy while ignoring the flaws that led to them conceding four goals away and helping Chelsea become just the third English team after Leeds and Manchester United to recover from a two goal defeicit in the first leg in Europe.
“Napoli with heads held high - Drogba opens the door to Chelsea, Inler’s goal is not enough,” the Rome based paper went with after the game, while also carrying quotes from Mazzarri suggesting that his side must ‘focus their efforts’ on qualifying for the Champions League once more through their league position.
Tuttosport, whose front page is adorned with various controversies from the past week’s football, offers the story of Napoli’s exit only a banner at the top of the page which simply reads: “Napoli, that hurts”.
The paper pointed to Inter’s doomed plight in the Champions League as they exited the competition at the hand of Marseille on Tuesday when assessing the current state of Italian football.
“Ivanovic in extra time condemns Mazzarri’s men, who waste a great deal against Chelsea,” the paper bemoans alongside a picture of Mazzarri slumped in the Stamford Bridge dugout. “Thousands of Azzurri fans in tears, now just Milan in the Champions League.”
Away from the papers and into the world of the wide web and Calciomercato.com reflects on how well Napoli played in the first leg while suggesting that they deserved to progress into the quarter-finals over Chelsea.
“Elimination hard to digest” says of Napoli’s leading lights, Ezequiel Lavezzi in a story run by the site. The tattooed attacker added: “It is difficult to swallow a defeat like this, especially after the great game at the San Paolo, but we must be proud of what we achieved in Europe."
Football-italia.net, an English language Italian based site took the biscuit for eulogising over Napoli’s failures.
“I stand and applaud Mazzarri, his Three Tenors and every player who worked their socks off to get them this far. Any right-minded fan of football should do the same, for Napoli played often spectacular football that was always open and attacking, never cowed nor arrogant, going head-to-head with among the biggest clubs in Europe."
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