Lorenzo Insigne: Napoli have 'heart and grit' needed for title run
Lorenzo Insigne says Napoli showed the "heart and grit" they will need in the Serie A title race as they defeated AC Milan 2-1 to widen their lead at the top to four points.
Less then a week after being left out of the Italy team that lost in a World Cup qualifier playoff to Sweden, Insigne was on the scoresheet alongside Piotr Zielinski as Milan ensured they will stay top regardless of Juventus' result on Sunday.
And he told Mediaset Premium after the game that this type of performance boded well for the rest of the season.
"It was a great victory against a good side like Milan," Insigne said. "Aside from the tactics and technique, we needed heart and grit to win this game and we'll need those elements.
"We can do great things this season, we're giving it our all and hope that by the end of the day it'll be enough. We don't want to let the fans down."
Insigne's omission in the Italy team was highly controversial as the Azzurri failed to qualify on Monday, but the forward would not speak out against coach Gian Piero Ventura, who was sacked on Wednesday.
"I don't like to cause controversy. He considered those to be the right men to reach the World Cup and I accept the decisions of the coach," Insigne added. "I am sad because Italy are not going to the World Cup, not because I didn't play."
Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri also said he did not feel Ventura should take the full burden of Italy's national woe, even if he disagreed with his tactics.
"I would not leave Insigne out, but each tactician is the result of his experiences and Ventura always played with two up front," he said. "I did not like the way the media tore Ventura apart, because when there is a loss like that, the blame is to be shared around, never just apportioned to one man."
As for Saturday's game, Sarri said he thought Napoli were in full control.
"It wasn't our sharpest performance, yet looking overall we allowed hardly anything and created eight clear scoring opportunities, so that's good in the circumstances," he said.
"Our tempo dropped in the second half and we sat too deep, but despite that, we didn't allow many real chances. Almost everyone was off on international duty, so our fitness levels could not have been perfect.
"I am sorry we conceded a goal in stoppages from distance, because it would've been nice to keep a clean sheet. Mario Rui did well, but right now he hasn't the minutes in his legs after such a long injury lay-off. He did very well while he had the legs."
Meanwhile, Milan boss Vincenzo Montella was happy to see a difficult piece of the fixture slate behind them, with the Rossoneri already 11 points out of the Champions League places.
"I thank the club for giving me this support and confidence," Montella said. "I struggle to look at the table, but from now on we'll have a simpler fixture list and hopefully this type of performance will see us in good stead.
"Our last two defeats were against Juventus and Napoli, so of course they are ahead of us, but despite the results, we were in the games. We showed character, we are growing and it's a growth process.
"As I said, I am proud of the performances [in defeat] against Napoli, Juve, Roma and Inter, because to get to their level we need patience."
Follow @ESPNFC on Twitter to keep up with the latest football updates.