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Benitez heaps praise on Swans boss Monk


Rafa Benitez. Picture credit: Rebecca Naden / REUTERS

Rafa Benitez. Picture credit: Rebecca Naden / REUTERS

Rafa Benitez. Picture credit: Rebecca Naden / REUTERS

NAPOLI boss Rafael Benitez praised Swansea and their rookie head coach Garry Monk after seeing his team held 0-0 at the Liberty Stadium.

The Serie A side will be favourites to clinch a place in the Europa League last-16 by winning next Thursday's return encounter in southern Italy.

But it could have been a vastly different story after Swansea produced arguably their best performance of the season in only Monk's fourth game at the helm after Michael Laudrup's departure earlier this month.

"Playing against a team from the Premier League, we knew the rhythm would be different and that they played with a high tempo," former Liverpool and Chelsea manager Benitez (inset) said.

"We suffered and we had to defend well, but I thought we played well.

"It is positive to get a draw here. Swansea are fast, they played well and had good chances, but I think defensively my team did a great job against a side that attacked from start to finish.

"It wasn't easy to stop them. Without being fully happy, I can be happy with the way we performed because it is difficult to defend against this tempo."

And in praise of Monk, he added: "It was a great game and his side did well.

"If they carry on with similar things, it will give them good confidence and from what I have seen it seems like he has a good future as manager."

Monk hailed his players following what he described as a "wow" performance against opponents who only bowed out of the Champions League group stage on goal difference.

"What a performance that was from us," Monk said.

"Napoli are one of the top teams in Europe, so to put a performance like that on ... I said to the players afterwards the word was 'wow'.

"It is a great confidence boost for the players. I guess the only disappointment was that we didn't score a goal.

"We have competed with Napoli once, and we can definitely compete with them again.

"We have to be aware it is a different environment next week, but what an experience for us to have. To be in with a shout, I guess that's all we could have asked for."