September 2, 2018 / 8:54 PM / 20 days ago

Napoli humbled at Sampdoria after Ancelotti tinkers

MILAN (Reuters) - Serie A title hopefuls Napoli were thumped 3-0 at Sampdoria on Sunday after coach Carlo Ancelotti tinkered with the team, dropping captain Marek Hamsik and forward Jose Callejon.

Soccer Football - Serie A - Sampdoria v Napoli - Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris, Genoa, Italy - September 2, 2018 Sampdoria's Lorenzo Tonelli in action with Napoli's Simone Verdi REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini

Gregoire Defrel scored two first-half goals to put Sampdoria in command and, although Napoli improved after the break, Fabio Quagliarella added a third with an outrageous flick in the 75th minute.

A low cross was sent into the area and the 35-year-old forward, at the near post, diverted it into the net with the back of his heel.

Last season’s runners-up Napoli, who came from behind to win both their first two games, have six points from three matches.

Ancelotti’s predecessor Maurizio Sarri was publicly criticised by club president Aurelio De Laurentiis last season for failing to rotate the team.

Even so, it was a bold move by Ancelotti as Hamsik had appeared in every Serie A match since April, 2015 while Callejon had started their last 54 league games.

Soccer Football - Serie A - Sampdoria v Napoli - Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris, Genoa, Italy - September 2, 2018 Napoli's Elseid Hysaj in action with Sampdoria's Nicola Murru REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini

But it quickly backfired as Defrel, who managed one league goal for Roma last season, collected a pass from Riccardo Saponara and rifled a 25-metre shot between David Ospina and his near post in the 11th minute.

Defrel, cleverly set up by Quagliarella, added the second just after the half hour with a shot which took a deflection off Raul Albiol and sneaked past Ospina.

Ancelotti sent on Adam Ounas and Dries Mertens in the second half and, although Napoli improved markedly, they were floored by Quagliarella’s typically flamboyant effort as Sampdoria completed their first win over Napoli since 2010.

“We started this game the same way we started the first two but this time we couldn’t turn things around,” said Ancelotti, who has returned to Serie A after a nine-year absence. “We gifted them the first half with our attitude.”

He would not accept that the absence of Hamsik and Callejon was the cause of the problem.

“In that case, it would just be my fault but our problem was our overall attitude,” he said.

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SECOND PLACE

In other games, Sassuolo scored four goals in 11 minutes before halftime on their way to a 5-3 win over Genoa which left them in second place with seven points, two behind leaders Juventus.

Krzysztof Piatek gave Genoa the lead in the 27th minute but Kevin Prince Boateng, Pol Lirola, Khouma Babacar and a bizarre own goal by Nicolas Spolli put the hosts in complete control.

Babacar’s shot appeared to be going to wide but Spolli stopped it with one foot, only to knock it over the line with the other.

Gian Marco Ferrari scored a fifth after the hour before Goran Pandev and Piatek pulled two back.

Marco Benassi’s second-half goal gave Fiorentina a 1-0 win over Udinese which left them with six points from two games.

Lazio, who lost their opening two matches, got off the mark by beating Frosinone by the same score thanks to Luis Alberto’s goal early in the second half.

Torino beat SPAL 1-0 in a match interrupted in the 18th minute for nearly an hour by torrential rain.

Defender Nicolas Nkoulou headed the only goal early in the second half to give Torino their first win of the campaign and end SPAL’s perfect start.

Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Ed Osmond

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