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Rafa Benitez says Napoli superior against Genoa, dismisses talk of referee influence

Despite referee decisions helping Napoli win today, the club's manager insists that Napoli were still the better team regardless.

Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

It was a match loaded with controversy, but all Rafa Benitez wants to talk about is that his Napoli team were better than Genoa on Monday.

"I think it was clear that Napoli were superior throughout the game," Rafa told the assembled press after the match. "We’ve seen that we can win by scoring two goals with 10 chances. Clearly I am happy because we won, but the result wasn’t enough as we had three or four chances to double our lead and wasted them. Genoa then reacted, but we deserved the victory."

Despite his best efforts to avoid the topic, Rafa was still bombarded with questions about the influence referees had on the match. Replays had shown that Napoli's first goal was offside and that the penalty call was questionable, but Napoli's manager didn't want to hear any of it. "It can happen. I said many times that I won’t talk about referees," he told the persistent reporters, reminding them that he's only spoken of the referees once, when a number of clearly one-sided decisions cost Napoli points against Juventus.

And as Rafa pointed out, things weren't nearly so one-sided today: "I saw 10 incidents worth analyzing. [...] If we analyze every incident, I think it’s not so easy for Genoa to complain." Among the various calls in their favor Genoa received were a clear handball in the box ignored in the first half, two clear last-man fouls on Gonzalo Higuain that denied him chances to score, and a general freedom to play a very rough brand of football that teams normally aren't allowed. Napoli definitely were not the sole beneficiaries of today's poor refereeing display.

For his part, Genoa manager Gian Piero Gasperini refused to talk to the media after the match, except to tell them that he had nothing to say about the match.

Driving the topic away from the referees, Rafa seemed confident about Napoli's ability to chase down a suddenly-flagging Roma side. "I am convinced that if the team plays the way we did through most of tonight, we can keep on winning. Confidence is growing, fitness levels are improving and in tactical terms you can see the team knows what to do." If those things keep up down the stretch of the season, there's little reason to think that Napoli can't find more success in the league, as well as in cup competitions. A little bit more luck in the refereeing department couldn't hurt, either.