It has a horrible night for Serie A sides in Europe on Tuesday as both Inter Milan and Napoli were knocked out of the Champions League. Inter drew 1-1 at home to bottom of the group PSV while Napoli lost 1-0 at Liverpool.
Both clubs will now play in the Europa League but that is scant consolation, especially when you consider the financial gap between the two competitions.
At Anfield, Napoli knew they would be guaranteed a place in the Round of 16 if they avoided defeat, but even a 2-1 or 3-2 loss could be enough. Anything but a 1-0 defeat.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side were second best for much of the game, but should have equalized late in added time when a cross was flicked on for Arkadiusz Milik, who controlled with one foot, shot with the other and former Roma goalkeeper Alisson Becker used himself as a human shield to charge down the finish from point-blank range
Napoli fans are also upset that Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk was only given a yellow card for his first-half studs-up tackle on Dries Mertens. Afterwards, Ancelotti said:
“It could’ve been a red card”
“There’s been so much talk about VAR yet when it does arrive in the Champions League, it’ll already be too late for us…”
Over at a nervy Giuseppe Meazza, Inter huffed and puffed against PSV but could not get the second goal they needed to advance to the knockout stages.
Like Napoli, Inter had chances late, Keita’s header was too close to Zoet and there was a desperate last-ditch tackle with Icardi going clear, then Lautaro Martinez wasted a golden chance to write his name into Inter’s history.
Afterwards Inter boss Luciano Spalletti felt that his sides lack of big match experience got to them.
“We were unable to keep our calm, despite the fact everything was still possible. We gave the ball away, were tactically not organised and PSV were allowed some dangerous counter-attacks,” Spalletti told Sky Sport Italia.
“As the anxiety grows, you lose sight of how to control the game and it became end to end. We had our chances to score, but it wasn’t the right attitude we needed in that moment.
“Not every team can beat anyone. This does weigh on our psychology and we had to keep the game in the balance, but we became too frenetic after going a goal behind.”
The winners on Tuesday night were Napoli and Inter’s domestic rivals Juventus and Roma, who are both safely through to the knockout stages and will continue to benefit financially from the financial riches that is the Champions League