Five takeaways from Hellas Verona defeat to Napoli on Tuesday night.
#1. Verona punished for defensive lapses and squandered chances. It was painful to watch Hellas lose their first match at the Bentegodi since 1 December, but it is a measure of how far the squad has come that we were able to compete with a Napoli side now edging towards Champions League qualification. Verona can consider themselves unfortunate to take nothing from what was an evenly balanced encounter between two sides at the top of their game. Ultimately, Verona were punished for some rare lapses in concentration and their failure to take their chances when they came.
#2. The miss of the season! With 23 minutes played, it was Verona who came closest to breaking the deadlock, but somehow Valerio Verre contrived to deflect the ball over the bar from a when all that was required was a simple header. With proven striker Pazzini watching from the bench, such a miss (described by Reuters as "one of the most astonishing misses of the season") was unforgivable. Verre, on loan from Sampdoria, has scored just 3 goals in 25 appearances this season and, after this howler, Juric may now look elsewhere to fill the "trequarti" role.
#3. Milik strikes again. It was Napoli who broke the deadlock from a corner late in the first half. From a Politano corner on the left, Milik found himself unmarked to head the ball passed Silvestri, his third against Verona this season. Questions will be asked about Verona's defending - a rare lapse in concentration from a set piece left the powerful Pole unmarked.
#4. VAR denies Verona (again). Once again VAR was the villain of the piece, with a decision that determined the outcome of the game. Fifteen minutes into the second half, Davide Faraoni equalised for Hellas Verona, only for VAR to pick up an unintentional handball by Zaccagni in the build up to the goal. While it seems that the laws of the game were employed correctly on this occasion, the nature of the handball and the use of VAR to trawl the buildup in search of an infringement raises serious questions about the spirit of such laws.
#5. Verona down but not out. With Verona chasing the game, Pazzini, Salcedo, Pessina and Stepinski were all sent on in search of the equaliser. It was Napoli who capitalised though, as Verona once again conceded from a set piece, as substitute Hirving Lozano clambered over Faraoni (no VAR check in this case) to head in at the far post. In truth, the two-nil scoreline flattered the visitors. In stifling conditions Verona created chances and refused to give in. They deserved more for a gutsy performance against a formidable opponent.
Next up: On Sunday evening Hellas Verona travel to 12th place Sassuolo.