Napoli coach Rafa Benitez hailed the battling qualities of his side after seeing them beat Marseille, a result that moved them level on points with Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund in a keenly-contested Group F.
Benitez, whose side had lost their previous two away games heading into the clash in France, recalled Dries Mertens, Gonzalo Higuain and Zapata to his starting line-up but played down his role in the decision, instead choosing to focus on a fine tactical performance.
“I am satisfied because we won, but it seems easy for me to choose a player like Dries Mertens when he works so hard in training,” the ex-Liverpool and Chelsea boss told Sky Sport.
“Duvan Zapata gets better every day and Gonzalo Higuain doesn’t have full match fitness yet, so it was only right to give him a chance.
“We’re at 75 per cent now. The players sacrificed themselves and worked hard all over the pitch. We know that when we work all together, we can achieve something.
“My staff worked well to analyse the opposition and everyone knew the tactical plan. I think that is the key, as if you prepare it on the whiteboard and the players follow those instructions, they know where to be and what to do.”
Napoli now face a home tie with Marseille in their next European outing, followed by a trip to current leaders Borussia Dortmund before a final clash at the San Paolo against Arsenal.
“We talked before the game about the group and why this was a fundamental match for us,” Benitez added. “We have another two games at home and one away, so we’ll see what happens.
“The team proved this evening it can handle and control this type of test.”