Serie A leaders Napoli lost to basement side Cremonese to exit the Coppa Italia and be left with “so much disappointment”.
This looks like being a dream season for the Partenopei, who have established a nine-point advantage at the top of the table as they bid for a first Scudetto since 1990.
Luciano Spalletti’s side are also through in the Champions League after an impressive group stage, but there will be no improbable treble.
That is because a seemingly straightforward Coppa tie against 10-man Cremonese saw Napoli eliminated on Tuesday.
Cremonese have not won a single game in Serie A all season but reached the round of 16 for just the third time in their history thanks to a penalty shoot-out success following a 2-2 draw.
Napoli, whose line-up showed 10 changes from their stunning 5-1 defeat of Juventus on Friday, looked to be heading through after Juan Jesus and Giovanni Simeone scored in quick succession in the first half to cancel out Charles Pickel’s opener.
But Felix Afena-Gyan pulled Cremonese level three minutes from time, and the strugglers survived extra time even after Leonardo Sernicola was sent off.
In a shoot-out, only Napoli substitute Stanislav Lobotka missed – a costly error for a team who had also introduced Victor Osimhen from the bench by that point.
3 – Cremonese have progressed through to the round of 16 of the Coppa Italia for the third time in their history, after 1986/87 (when they reached the semi-final) and 1996/97. Jolt.
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo)
“We are sorry,” coach Spalletti told Mediaset. “There is so much disappointment.
“We always have to go through the management of the game, of the ball, and we have not been as good as we usually are.
“But then the game was in complete safety because they, apart from a few balls to the attackers, could not do much. We conceded goals in a situation where we lost two balls that were going out.
“Then we scored two goals and wasted several chances, but unfortunately that’s how it works. When you question a game that was under management then it becomes complicated.”