AAP Soccer

Defeat for Napoli in coach Gattuso’s debut

By AAP Newswire

Gennaro Gattuso has his work cut out for him as Napoli's new coach.

Gli Azzurri conceded a stoppage-time goal in a 2-1 Italian Serie A loss at home to Parma on Saturday in Gattuso's debut at the helm.

Gattuso was hired midweek to replace the fired Carlo Ancelotti - his former coach at AC Milan - but couldn't prevent Napoli from extending their winless streak in the league to eight matches.

Gervinho finished off a counter attack for Parma to decide the match.

Gattuso said Napoli were struggling "psychologically."

"Napoli is not used to such a long winless streak," he said.

"These players are used to challenging at the top of the table, so they are struggling to adapt. ... I accept full responsibility and blame for this loss."

It was uphill from the start for Gattuso as Parma scored after only four minutes.

Dejan Kulusevski took advantage of a failed tackle by Kalidou Koulibaly and finished with a decisive shot inside the near post.

Making matters worse, Koulibaly was injured on the play and had to exit with an apparent thigh problem.

Napoli were awarded a penalty in first-half added time only to have the VAR cancel the call as video footage showed that Hernani barely touched Napoli midfielder Piotr Zielinski.

Gattuso introduced Dries Mertens midway through the second half and the Belgium international made an immediate impact.

A minute after coming on, Mertens provided a cross that Arkadiusz Milik headed in.

Napoli fell to eighth place and were leapfrogged by Parma.

"There is a lot of work to be done," Gattuso said.

"This team has to shake off the tension and get back to playing the kind of free-flowing football it did for many years."

Brescia are showing signs of life with a second straight win since Eugenio Corini was reappointed as coach.

Mario Balotelli was a constant threat in a 3-0 win over Lecce that took Brescia up one spot to 18th.

Jhon Chancellor, Ernesto Torregrossa and Nikolas Spalek scored the goals.

Corini was fired in early November but then rehired after Fabio Grosso lost all three of his matches in charge.

"If we're united we can achieve something that seemed impossible," Corini said.

"We're back in this race."

Lecce, in 15th, are just two points ahead of Brescia.

Sampdoria won 1-0 in a late city derby with Genoa thanks to a clinical drive from Manolo Gabbiadini.

Samp joined Lecce on 15 points to move out of the drop zone while Genoa are second last.