Europa League - Group C
NapoliNapoli3LeicesterLeicester City2

Napoli 3-2 Leicester: Foxes pay for slack defending

By Steve SutcliffeBBC Sport
Eljif Elmas
Napoli have progressed from the group stage of the Europa League on six occasions

Brendan Rodgers said he does not "even know" what the Europa Conference League is after his Leicester side were demoted to the competition following their 3-2 Europa League defeat at Napoli.

The Foxes had started Thursday in pole position to advance but were made to pay for their slack defending as the hosts progressed at their expense in a dramatic climax to Group C.

Leicester drop into the knockout play-offs of European club football's third-tier tournament in February. The draw takes place on Monday and they will face one of the runners-up from the group stages of the Europa Conference League.

"I've got to be honest I don't even know what the competition is," Rodgers told BT Sport.

"I was focused on the Europa League and winning this group and at the very least finishing second. But I am sure I will find out soon enough."

A tense conclusion to the evening saw Leicester almost given a late reprieve because of events over 1,000 miles away in Poland, when a stoppage time penalty was awarded to Legia Warsaw in their fixture against Spartak Moscow at virtually the same time as the final whistle blew in Italy.

A Legia equaliser would have sent Leicester through but Tomas Pekhart's spot-kick was saved by Spartak goalkeeper Aleksandr Selikhov, to ensure his side progressed as group winners instead of slipping down to third.

Rodgers felt his side contributed heavily to their own downfall against an injury-ravaged Napoli side.

"There is a lot of naivety in our team, with a lot of young players and it has been a big demand for them this season," he added.

"We have played a number of systems but individually it comes down to having that mentality to track a runner or stop a cross. We were good offensively but it was nowhere near good enough."

Adam Ounas' early goal set the tone for an error-strewn display, with Caglar Soyuncu's ill-advised pass beginning the passage of play that saw the Algeria winger register his first Napoli goal since April 2019.

Ryan Bertrand was at fault as Luciano Spalletti's side extended their lead, playing Andrea Petagna onside, with the forward in turn squaring for Eljif Elmas to tap home. But the Foxes responded in superb fashion, with Jonny Evans driving in an immediate response after a free-kick was only partially cleared and Kiernan Dewsbury-­Hall levelling matters with a precise left-foot volley from the edge of the penalty area.

However, another defensive lapse from a Leicester side whose last clean sheet came on the opening day of the Premier League season proved decisive.

Bertrand, Harvey Barnes and Timothy Castagne were all guilty of not marking tightly enough as Giovanni di Lorenzo picked out Elmas, who allowed the ball to run across his body before driving it into the bottom right corner.

Familiar failings cost Foxes

Leicester travelled to Italy in the knowledge that several permutations, including a defeat, could have seen them advance, while Napoli knew that only a win would suffice.

And while Napoli shook off some patchy Serie A form to achieve their objective, Leicester's struggle for consistency, and the passive defending which has become a feature of an underwhelming campaign so far continued.

On paper the Foxes' strong starting XI, including the likes of Youri Tielemans and Jamie Vardy, looked more than capable of having the measure of a side shorn of Kalidou Koulibaly, Victor Osimhen and Lorenzo Insigne amongst others.

But there was little evidence of that on the pitch, bar a 20-minute period at the end of the first half when they recovered from that two-goal deficit.

While James Maddison struck a post and Evans emerged as the only Leicester defender worthy of credit, they have now conceded two goals or more in five of their past six matches and worryingly also have a combination of Covid-19 cases and illness in the squad to contend with.

Player of the match

ManolasKostas Manolas

with an average of 7.44


  1. Squad number44Player nameManolas
    Average rating


  2. Squad number7Player nameElmas
    Average rating


  3. Squad number33Player nameOunas
    Average rating


  4. Squad number37Player namePetagna
    Average rating


  5. Squad number2Player nameMalcuit
    Average rating


  6. Squad number5Player nameJuan Jesus
    Average rating


  7. Squad number14Player nameMertens
    Average rating


  8. Squad number13Player nameRrahmani
    Average rating


  9. Squad number20Player nameZielinski
    Average rating


  10. Squad number11Player nameLozano
    Average rating


  11. Squad number4Player nameDemme
    Average rating


  12. Squad number6Player nameMário Rui
    Average rating


  13. Squad number22Player nameDi Lorenzo
    Average rating


  14. Squad number1Player nameMeret
    Average rating


Leicester City

  1. Squad number22Player nameDewsbury-Hall
    Average rating


  2. Squad number6Player nameEvans
    Average rating


  3. Squad number10Player nameMaddison
    Average rating


  4. Squad number29Player nameDaka
    Average rating


  5. Squad number7Player nameBarnes
    Average rating


  6. Squad number9Player nameVardy
    Average rating


  7. Squad number8Player nameTielemans
    Average rating


  8. Squad number25Player nameNdidi
    Average rating


  9. Squad number1Player nameSchmeichel
    Average rating


  10. Squad number11Player nameAlbrighton
    Average rating


  11. Squad number27Player nameCastagne
    Average rating


  12. Squad number4Player nameSöyüncü
    Average rating


  13. Squad number42Player nameSoumaré
    Average rating


  14. Squad number5Player nameBertrand
    Average rating




Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Meret
  • 22Di Lorenzo
  • 13Rrahmani
  • 5Nunes Jesus
  • 6Mário Rui
  • 4DemmeBooked at 77minsSubstituted forManolasat 78'minutes
  • 20Zielinski
  • 11LozanoSubstituted forMalcuitat 45'minutes
  • 33OunasSubstituted forMertensat 63'minutes
  • 7Elmas
  • 37PetagnaBooked at 33mins


  • 2Malcuit
  • 14Mertens
  • 21Politano
  • 25Ospina
  • 44Manolas
  • 72Boffelli
  • 74Costanzo
  • 82Vergara


Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Schmeichel
  • 27Castagne
  • 6Evans
  • 4Söyüncü
  • 5Bertrand
  • 8TielemansSubstituted forSoumaréat 77'minutes
  • 25Ndidi
  • 10Maddison
  • 22Dewsbury-HallSubstituted forAlbrightonat 89'minutes
  • 7BarnesSubstituted forDakaat 72'minutes
  • 9Vardy


  • 11Albrighton
  • 12Ward
  • 20Choudhury
  • 29Daka
  • 33Thomas
  • 41Stolarczyk
  • 42Soumaré
  • 45Nelson
  • 49McAteer
  • 53Ewing
Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz

Match Stats

Home TeamNapoliAway TeamLeicester
Shots on Target

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Napoli 3, Leicester City 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Napoli 3, Leicester City 2.

  3. Post update

    Patson Daka (Leicester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Juan Jesus (Napoli).

  5. Post update

    Foul by Çaglar Söyüncü (Leicester City).

  6. Post update

    Andrea Petagna (Napoli) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  7. Post update

    Attempt missed. Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Marc Albrighton with a cross.

  8. Post update

    Foul by Çaglar Söyüncü (Leicester City).

  9. Post update

    Andrea Petagna (Napoli) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  10. Substitution

    Substitution, Leicester City. Marc Albrighton replaces Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall.

  11. Post update

    Offside, Napoli. Juan Jesus tries a through ball, but Mário Rui is caught offside.

  12. Post update

    Corner, Napoli. Conceded by Kasper Schmeichel.

  13. Post update

    Attempt saved. Kevin Malcuit (Napoli) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Dries Mertens.

  14. Post update

    Corner, Leicester City. Conceded by Mário Rui.

  15. Post update

    Timothy Castagne (Leicester City) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  16. Post update

    Foul by Mário Rui (Napoli).

  17. Post update

    Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  18. Post update

    Foul by Kostas Manolas (Napoli).

  19. Post update

    Foul by Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City).

  20. Post update

    Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Napoli) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

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