Luciano Spalletti breathed a sigh of relief on the final whistle of the game that saw Napoli overcome Spezia with a last-minute winner from Giacomo Raspadori. “There are some games that are absolutely must-win and this was one of them.

“It’s matches like this that are crucial in reaching our overall aims and determining the outcome of the season. Last year, defeats like the ones against Spezia had a negative impact on our season.

“We showed patience and quality. Winning in this way shows our mentality and sharpness. I’ll say it again: we could not afford to come away without a win here because these kinds of matches have cost us dearly in the past.”

The Azzurri coach was rewarded for his decision to leave Raspadori on the pitch until the end. “Raspa was always in the game, running, offering link-up play even when he could have been tired. He was the one who rewarded us and gave us the joy of this win.”

Spalletti received a late red card during the match. “I said to Santoro, the referee, that we couldn’t keep getting fouled without there being bookings. Then after our goal, they weren’t happy about the amount of time added on and I pointed out in quite an animated way that after the number of fouls they had committed, interrupting our play, there was very little that Spezia could complain about. I didn’t insult anyone.”

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