Napoli beat Ajax 6-1 in the Champions League




CNN

Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti recalled club legend Diego Maradona after watching his side beat Ajax 6-1 in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The Italian side fell behind early in the game after Mohammed Kudus’ rebound goal, but the hosts responded by demolishing them.

Goals from Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Piotr Zielinski, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Giovanni Simeone provided Giacomo Raspadori’s brace to silence the Johan Cruijff Arena and maintain Napoli’s 100% start to this season’s Champions League campaign.

“We had a great game. We have shown what we are capable of. Even Maradona would have been proud of us,” Spalletti told reporters after the game.

Maradona, who died in 2020, has never been far from the minds of Napoli fans since he propelled the club to its most successful era.

The club have not won a league title since 1987 and 1990, when Maradona was at his peak, but their performance in Amsterdam has fans dreaming of a new golden era.

Spalletti, however, is trying to keep his team’s feet on the ground despite their unbeaten start to Serie A.

“One game doesn’t change your life. It was a great performance. It’s great to win like that, but now we have to go back to thinking about the next game. There are teams that are doing very well in Serie A,” he added.

While Maradona was the star of his generation, Georgian attacker Kvaratskhelia could be the star of this one.

The 21-year-old, who scored his first Champions League goal against Ajax, joined the club this season after a spell with Georgian side Dinamo Batumi.

He had previously impressed with Russian side Rubin Kazan, but his contract was terminated following the invasion of Ukraine.

His pace and attacking flair have been compared by fans to Maradona and since then he has earned the nickname ‘Kvaradona’.

Despite scoring six goals in 11 games for Napoli and attracting interest from Europe’s top clubs, Kvaratskhelia is just looking to continue his development.

“I can’t come close to Maradona, but I will give everything to be a great player at this club,” he told reporters last month.

Ajax, on the other hand, will be left to lick their wounds after a bruising encounter.

Captain Dusan Tadić blamed the defeat on a turbulent summer that saw many experienced players leave the club in the transfer market.

“We have seven or eight new players. When you lose so many players, it becomes a bit difficult,” said Tadić, who was sent off late in the match.

“Then you need more games to set the pace for the team.”

Napoli have a chance to secure their place in the Champions League knockout stages when they host Ajax on October 12, but will first focus on their next league match against Cremonese on Sunday.