Brendan Rodgers has acknowledged that Leicester City’s “downfall” in the Europa League was their defending as they lacked “determination”.
A win against Napoli in their final Europa League group game would have guaranteed Leicester a place in the knockout stages.
The English side were quickly on the back foot as they fell two goals down in the first half. Adam Ounas and Elijif Elmas got on the scoresheet.
Leicester pay cruel late penalty but this was self-inflicted
They battled their way back into the game though as Jonny Evans and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall scored to make it 2-2 at the break.
Elmas scored his second shortly after the restart as Napoli ran out 3-2 winners. In the other game in Group C, Spartak Moscow beat Legia Warsaw 1-0 to advance.
Spartak’s goalkeeper – Alexander Silikov – saved a penalty in the 98th minute. If this spot-kick went in, Leicester would have sneaked into the Europa League play offs.
But Rodgers’ side finish third in Group C as they ended up two points adrift of Spartak Moscow and Napoli. The Foxes will now feature in the Europa Conference League play offs. These games are set to take place in February.
As quoted by Leicestershire Live, Rodgers said after the 3-2 loss that his side were let down by their defensive work:
“Over the course of the six games, we’ve attacked well but we’ve not been good enough defensively.
“Offensively very good, but we lacked a determination off the ball to stop them scoring. That’s been our downfall this evening, not just tonight but over the course of the competition.
“We went two goals down and it could have been a challenge for us, but we came back, Kiernan gets a fantastic second goal. That put us in a good place, and we said at half-time, we needed to be tight and aggressive.
“The third goal is a basic goal to concede. We had good chances with James -Maddison] and [Jamie] Vardy’s header. We have to defend, that’s critical because you can’t score three or four goals every game.”
Dewsbury-Hall said after the defeat that Napoli’s goals “drained” Leicester:
“[We] really wanted to go through tonight, it was in our hands. Our defending was not good. We can’t rely on scoring three goals to get results. We showed good character to get back into the game, but then we needed to push on from there.
“It’s a lack of confidence. We need to get back to basics, and be aggressive. It’s tough when you’re conceding goals because it drains you.
“I think we do show resilience but we shouldn’t be in those positions in the first place. We want to be in front and dominating games. We had enough quality to win the group.”