Jose Mourinho claimed Roma suffered an “unfair” defeat to runaway Serie A leaders Napoli as he saluted both his team and the rival side he is convinced will win the Scudetto.
Head coach Mourinho could not get the better of opposite number Luciano Spalletti, whose Napoli players sit 13 points clear at the top of the table after 20 games.
Sixth-placed Roma would have moved level on points with Inter, who sit second, had they got the win at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
Victor Osimhen converted Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s cross in stunning style to give Napoli a 17th-minute lead, but Roma levelled up in the 75th minute through Stephan El Shaarawy.
Yet Mourinho’s visitors could not hang on for a point, with Giovanni Simeone firing an 86th-minute winner when he took on a short pass from Piotr Zielinski and was allowed to turn inside the penalty area before firing powerfully into the right corner.
13 – For the first time in the three points for a win era (since 1994/95), there are 13 points between the 1st and the 2nd side of the table after 20 games played (the previous biggest gap was in 2006/07, 11 points between Inter and AS Roma). Abyss.#NapoliRoma pic.twitter.com/F6C6VbBcwF
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) January 29, 2023
Mourinho said: “From the first minute we played well. The team were always in control, we pressed very hard, we defended well.
“Napoli suffered, we are the team that scared them most. The stadium seemed empty, and beyond the negative result I leave here more confident.
“Sometimes football is unfair, the team that deserves more loses. Sometimes we won without deserving it, tonight they [Roma] deserved to win. I told the boys that we must be sad for the defeat, but calmly see you on Wednesday at the Olimpico.”
Roma face Cremonese in midweek in a Coppa Italia quarter-final.
“Today we saw that Napoli are very good and have the champion’s star,” Mourinho told DAZN. “I have won eight championships, I know what it means to have the star that lights up for you. The championship will definitely be theirs.”
Mourinho saw plenty to admire about Napoli striker Osimhen, but warned the Nigerian striker would have to change his game if he ever goes to the Premier League.
“Osimhen is very strong, he’s difficult to mark, he’s a top player, but if he goes to England he has to change because they’ll kill him,” Mourinho said. “Certain attitudes are accepted in Italy.”
— AurelioDeLaurentiis (@ADeLaurentiis) January 29, 2023
Napoli boss Spalletti said determination was key to his team’s success.
“They’re delicate matches and those who have played have done so with the right attitude,” Spalletti said.
His team’s lead is the largest by any team at this stage of a Serie A season since 1994-95, when the three points for a win era began.
Osimhen’s opener was a special strike, with the striker controlling the ball on his chest, then taking a touch with his knee, before rifling an unstoppable shot into the top-right corner.
“There is technical quality, there is personality,” Spalletti told DAZN. “He is a physically strong player and it becomes difficult to get at him.”
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