Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde says he had “hoped for something more” following his team’s 1-1 draw away to Napoli in the first leg of his team’s UEFA Champions League playoff series against the Italian giant. It took a late goal from Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain to cancel out Iker Muniain’s opener at the San Paolo stadium.
“We had hoped for something more, as we played the first 70 minutes very well. We conceded that Higuain goal and Napoli created more chances after that,” Valverde told Sky Sport Italia. “I think it is probably the right result and we’ll see what happens in the second leg. We don’t know if Muniain’s goal will make the difference, but clearly Napoli have to score in Bilbao.”
Napoli now has to either win in Bilbao -- something no Italian club has ever accomplished—or earn better than a 2-2 draw to qualify for the UCL group stage. A 1-1 draw would send the game into overtime.
After the game, Napoli’s Higuain was visibly irritated with the home team’s display. “Napoli have to play in the Champions League,” the Argentine told Sky Sport Italia. “The truth is I don’t feel like talking right now. I want to rest and focus on the next game.”