Soccer

Late Empoli winner piles pressure on Napoli boss Rudi Garcia

Viktor Kovalenko, right, gave Empoli a surprise win at Napoli (Alessandro Garofalo/AP)
Viktor Kovalenko, right, gave Empoli a surprise win at Napoli (Alessandro Garofalo/AP) Viktor Kovalenko, right, gave Empoli a surprise win at Napoli (Alessandro Garofalo/AP)

Empoli increased the pressure on under-fire Napoli boss Rudi Garcia with a 1-0 win in Serie A.

Viktor Kovalenko’s injury-time winner gave the visitors the smash-and-grab points in Naples and left Garcia in no doubt about how the home fans feel about him after he received jeers.

Last year’s champions are in fourth after this sorry defeat.

It could have been so different had the hosts taken two early chances, but they came up against inspired Empoli goalkeeper Etrit Berisha.

The Albania international tipped Matteo Politano’s effort wide and then kept out Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa’s header from the resulting corner.

Napoli thought they had taken the lead in the 27th minute after Giovanni Simeone poked home but he was ruled offside.

Empoli showed they meant business and fired two warning shots before the break when Matteo Cancellieri fizzed a shot just wide and then Andrea Ranocchia volleyed inches over.

Napoli took a while to get going after the break and then found Berisha was in no mood to concede.

Jesper Lindstrom, who had just come on, fired a wicked effort from 20 yards that was heading for the top corner, but the goalkeeper made a superb flying save.

He then twice denied Khvicha Kvaratskhelia as Napoli kept knocking on the door.

First he kept out an arrowed effort from the Georgian and then used his leg to save another low shot.

It looked like Napoli would be mulling over two points dropped as the game headed into injury time, but things got a lot worse as Empoli stole the win.

In the first minute of injury time Kovalenko found space on the edge of the area and found the far post with a delicious curling effort which beat goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini and went in off the post.

There was no time for Napoli to respond and Garcia was left staring down the barrel.