Koulibaly: Spalletti inspired 10-man Napoli to ‘painful’ victory in Serie A opener



Despite Victor Osimhen’s expulsion in the first-half, the Parthenopeans scored two second-half goals to start the season with a win

Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly has credited manager Luciano Spalletti for their 2-0 victory over Venezia in their Serie A opening game on Sunday.

The hosts suffered a huge blow after Nigeria striker Victor Osimhen was shown a straight red card in the 23rd minute for violent conduct.

His sending off made Napoli play the majority of the encounter with 10 players, but they still came out on top with goals from Lorenzo Insigne and Eljif Elmas in the second-half.

Insigne first missed a penalty in the 57th minute, but he made up for the failed attempt five minutes later, with another penalty that put Spalletti’s side ahead.

Elmas later doubled Napoli’s lead with his right-footed strike in the 72nd minute.

Meanwhile, Koulibaly was solid in the defence to help the Parthenopeans kick-off the 2021-22 season with a clean sheet and a win.

In his post-match assessment, the Senegal centre-back said Spalletti’s tactical instructions spurred them to victory despite playing with a man down.

“It was a painful and important victory,” Kouibaly told the club’s website. “It was not easy to be able to impose in numerical inferiority.

“At one point it seemed very hard to be able to find the way to the goal. Then in the second half the coach gave us the right indications.”

Following Insigne’s substitution in the 85th minute, Koulibaly is next in line to get the captain’s armband and he reacted to the opportunity to lead the team.

The 30-year-old added: “Insigne was very important and gave us the right push to win. I am honoured to have taken the captain’s armband from him. Today was the victory of the group.”

Koulibaly will aim to help Napoli build on Sunday’s clean sheet when they travel to Genoa for their next Serie A match on August 29.





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