Monk: We can be proud

27th February

Garry Monk praised his side for their valiant effort after a 3-1 defeat to Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo brought Swansea's European journey to an end.

The Swans fought bravely throughout the two legs of their Europa League last 32 clash with Rafa Benitez's side and remained in the tie until the very end after a goalless draw at the Liberty last week.

Up until the final ten minutes, the Swans looked as though they could be heading through to the last 16 after Jonathan de Guzman's 30th minute strike gave the Swans a crucial away goal after Lorenzo Insigne opened the scoring for the Italian giants.

But two late goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Gokhan Inler ensured Monk's side exited the Europa League, while the hosts continue through to the next round.

Speaking after the game, Monk was proud of his players' efforts and said his players can hold their heads high after going toe-to-toe with one of Europe's strongest teams.

"I couldn't have asked for any more," said the Swans head coach. "Over 180 minutes against a very good side, we pushed them all the way and created many chances - we had enough chances to win five games.

"If it was a number of other goalkeepers in the world, we could have had a few goals. 

"Tonight we performed well in a difficult place, and we had enough chances that if we took, it wouldn't have mattered if Napoli took theirs.

"If we had scored that second goal, I think it would have been a different game. 

"But I'm not going to put that on the boys because they deserved so much more for all of their effort, application and desire. 

"We came here to win the game with the belief that we can get a result, and the boys deserve massive credit for that.

"At the start, no one gave us a chance - people thought they would wipe the floor with us - but I think we have quite clearly shown that that wasn't the case.
"The boys should be really proud of themselves and take the belief from this game to our league."

And after having a taste for European football and taking on some of the continent's top teams, Monk is targeting more continental experience in the future.

"The environment of European football is where you want to be - it's the elite," he added. 

"It's been a great journey for everyone - for the club and the fans. It brings the group together in situations like these.

"After having a taste, of course you want more. Hopefully, going forward, we can achieve that."

Meanwhile, Napoli boss Rafa Benitez felt tonight's match was a tough test for his side against a strong Swansea side.
"It was a very difficult game," said Benitez. "We were facing a very quick team, who pressed a lot and were very fast on the counter-attack. 

"They are a good team who play nice football and they can score goals, so it was a difficult game for us.

"Everyone played really well and contributed to tonight's win."