Ancelotti remains defiant as Milik hat-trick fires Napoli into last 16
12 December, 2019, 1:23 am
NAPLES, Italy (Reuters) – Napoli ended a nine-match winless run in all competitions to reach the Champions League last sixteen on Tuesday as a first-half Arkadiusz Milik hat-trick set up a 4-0 win over Genk in what could be coach Carlo Ancelotti’s last stand.
Genk’s Maarten Vandevoordt, who at 17 years and 287 days became the youngest goalkeeper to play in the UEFA Champions League, had a nightmare start as he gave the ball away under pressure and allowed Milik to score in the third minute.
The Pole fired the second in the 26th minute and converted a penalty in the 38th before Dries Mertens, on his 300th Napoli appearance, completed the scoring with another penalty a quarter of an hour from the end.
Napoli finished second in Group E with 12 points, one behind Liverpool, while their Belgian opponents finished bottom of the group with one point. Salzburg came third to qualify for the Europa League last 32.
Both Gazzetta dello Sport and Corriere dello Sport reported before the game that Ancelotti was set to be fired whatever the result and replaced by former AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso.
Ancelotti said afterwards that he was due to meet club owner and president Aurelio De Laurentiis on Wednesday.
“We agreed to have a meeting,” he said. “I hope to stay but that is a decision the president will make. This team has quality which they have shown in the Champions League but not in the league.
“They haven’t said anything to me, I was just preparing the match. Will I resign? I’ve never done that in my life.”
The downbeat mood was apparent from the start when the hosts were greeted by a lukewarm reception, with the San Paolo stadium less than one quarter full, but Napoli responded brightly, Kalidou Koulibaly scraping the crossbar with a header before the opening goal.
Vandevoordt collected a pass in his penalty area but was pressured by Napoli forwards and Milik had an easy job to score as the teenager lost the ball.
After Joseph Paintsil skimmed the post for Genk, Napoli went further ahead when Allan sent Giovanni Di Lorenzo down the right and his cross was turned in at the near post by Milik.
Allan then sent Calderon through and he flicked the ball over Vandevoordt, was tripped and Milik converted from the spot.