Champions League

Sarri defends Mertens decision despite Napoli defeat

2017-09-14 12:31
Dries Mertens (Getty)

Cape Town - Maurizio Sarri says his decision to rest Dries Mertens was justified following Napoli's 2-1 defeat at Shakhtar Donetsk.

Taison opened the scoring on 15 minutes at the Oblasny SportKomplex Metalist in Kharkiv before Facundo Ferreyra's second on 58 minutes as Arkadiusz Milik pulled a goal back from the penalty spot with 71 minutes played.

Mertens had started on the bench but came on for Marek Hamsik on the hour mark before winning the penalty for his side barely ten minutes later.

Sarri explained to Mediaset Premium: "[On Tuesday] I was accused of not making enough changes; now I am accused of too many," he told .

"Dries is extraordinary and we don't leave him out lightly, but pace is his greatest strength and he can't have 50 to 55 games per year.

"He was coming off international duty, too, so we decided to rest him and let him come on later.

"If we had managed to keep it at 1-0, he could have got us the equaliser. He has certain characteristics and qualities so it's not easy to leave him out, but sometimes we have to."

He added: "We must not forget that we lost 2-1 at the home of the seeded team in this group.

"If anyone thought the Champions League would be a walk in the park for Napoli, they have their feet back on the ground now."

Read more on:    napoli  |  champions league  |  soccer

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