Swansea 0 Napoli 0: Rafael Benitez tips Swans coach Garry Monk for a 'good future' after Liberty stalemate
Swansea held their illustrious opponents to a goalless draw to bring a welcome distraction from their relegation dogfight
Friday 21 February 2014
Napoli boss Rafael Benitez praised Swansea and their rookie head coach Garry Monk after seeing his team held 0-0 at the Liberty Stadium.
The Serie A side will be favourites to clinch a place in the Europa League last-16 by winning next Thursday's return encounter in southern Italy.
But it could have been a vastly different story after Swansea produced arguably their best performance of the season in only Monk's fourth game at the helm after Michael Laudrup's departure earlier this month.
"Playing against a team from the Premier League, we knew the rhythm would be different and that they played with a high tempo," former Liverpool and Chelsea manager Benitez said.
"We suffered and we had to defend well, but I thought we played well.
"It is positive to get a draw here. Swansea are fast, they played well and had good chances, but I think defensively my team did a great job against a side that attacked from start to finish.
"It wasn't easy to stop them. Without being fully happy, I can be happy with the way we performed because it is difficult to defend against this tempo."
And in praise of Monk, he added: "It was a great game and his side did well.
"If they carry on with similar things, it will give them good confidence and from what I have seen it seems like he has a good future as manager."
Monk hailed his players following what he described as a "wow" performance against opponents who only bowed out of the Champions League group stage this season on goal difference.
"What a performance that was from us," Monk said.
"Napoli are one of the top teams in Europe, so to put a performance like that on... I said to the players afterwards the word was 'wow'.
"It is a great confidence boost for the players. I guess the only disappointment was that we didn't score a goal.
"I thought we deserved at least a couple of goals. There was some fantastic goalkeeping, and maybe a bit more clinical finishing would have done it, but apart from that the boys were magnificent.
"I said before the game about putting a performance in we can all be proud of, and I think the players more than did that.
"We have competed with Napoli once, and we can definitely compete with them again.
"We have to be aware it is a different environment next week, a very hostile one, but what an experience for us to have. To be in with a shout, I guess that's all we could have asked for."
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