Spanish midfielder Fabian Ruiz credited Carlo Ancelotti for his never-wavering faith in him after scoring in Napoli’s 3-0 Europa League win over RB Salzburg.
The Partenopei got a foot into the next stage of the Europa League by claiming a comfortable 3-0 first leg win over Salzburg in their last-16 tie on Thursday.
Arkadiusz Milik and Ruiz both struck in the first-half to hand Napoli a commanding lead at the San Paolo Stadium before an own goal by Jerome Onguene finished Salzburg off.
Speaking after the game, Ruiz paid tribute to Napoli boss Ancelotti after scoring his first European goal in his eighth attempt for the club.
The 22-year-old arrived at Napoli last summer in a club record transfer of €30m from boyhood club Real Betis.
“I came here with a thigh muscle,” said Ruiz, according to Football-Italia.
“After that, Ancelotti gave me confidence and that’s important for me. Now I feel very good, I have to keep going like this and work hard.
“I like playing further afield. I can lose the ball more, but I prefer to take risks.”
Napoli will travel to Austria next Thursday for the return leg of their last-16 tie with Salzburg, which Ruiz believes will be a tricky encounter despite their 3-0 aggregate lead.
“In Salzburg, it’ll be a very difficult match,” he said.
“They’re a very good team, they play good football and we saw it. We must be careful, they’re an aggressive team.
“I’m very happy for my first goal in Europe, but victory is more important. We played as a team and that’s what we must always do.”
In the meantime, however, Ancelotti’s side will return their focus back to the Serie A for a trip to 11th-place Sassuolo on Sunday, where they hope to keep their very slim title hopes alive by claiming victory.
Currently, Napoli trail leaders Juventus by 16 points following last weekend’s 2-1 home defeat to their title rivals.