MILAN: Troubled Napoli extended their winless run to nine matches in all competitions, piling more pressure on beleaguered coach Carlo Ancelotti, when they were held to a 1-1 draw by lowly Udinese in Serie A on Saturday (Dec 7).
Seven of those matches have been in the league, making it their longest run without victory in Serie A since early 2010. It was a typical performance by Napoli who dominated the match but struggled to turn their 64 per cent of possession into clear-cut chances.
Napoli, runners-up in three of the last four seasons, were left in stuck in seventh place with 21 points, eight short of the top four where they would need to finish to qualify for the Champions League next season.
"In football, when you do well, it's thanks to the players and when you do badly, it's because of the coach," Ancelotti said. "I'm focused of trying to get us out of this spell."
"There was a good reaction in the second half which could be a good sign. I try to be optimistic and the team showed they can get out of this situation. In the first half, we were slow and had no bite."
Ancelotti's job was on the line, Italian media reported, although Udinese appeared the ideal opponents as Napoli had won their last six league meetings games against them.
But, in a incident which summed up Napoli's recent fortunes, Udinese went ahead with a goal which started with a Napoli corner.
The ball was cleared upfield and, with Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly caught out of position, Seko Fofana sent Kevin Lasagna clear to beat Alex Meret and open the scoring in the 32nd minute.
Napoli's pressure finally paid off in the 69th minute when they won possession on the edge of the Udinese area and Piotr Zielinksi placed his shot wide of Juan Musso to equalise.
Fernando Llorente sent a header straight at Musso and substitute Ames Younes saw a shot deflected over but they could not find a winner.