Luciano Spalletti lavished praise on his players after they overcame Udinese to wrap up the first three months of the Serie A campaign with an 11th consecutive victory.

“I want to thank my players for a phenomenal first part of the season,” the coach declared after his side's 3-2 success at the Stadio Maradona.

“The team spirit here is amazing. I have a group of players who constantly put themselves at the service of the team, with everyone pulling in the same direction. I also want to thank the coaching staff for everything they're doing.

“Today was a further demonstration of just how hard it is maintain the sort of performance levels we've had and how hard it is to win in Serie A. What we've managed to do up until now should not been seen as par for the course just because we're playing great football. The last 15 minutes today puts what my players have been doing into perspective and shows how hard they've had to work for it.

“Today battled, we dug in and the crowd gave us a huge hand too. For three-quarters of the game, we were superb and created loads of chances. Then we eased up and found out that games are never over till they're over.

"Overall, the mentality, the dedication and the work ethic of my team have been exceptional. They're young, enthusiastic and they make my job easy because they do everything I ask of them. They know that everyone is involved. Their technical ability and professionalism are clear to see.

“We have to keep growing so that we can maintain the consistency we need but we're on the right track. Now we must make sure we have exactly the same attitude when the season resumes.”

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