Higuain can make the difference without scoring – Benitez

The under-fire coach is happy with the attacker’s contribution and feels Napoli deserved their win over Sassuolo at the weekend

Napoli coach Rafa Benitez has defended Gonzalo Higuain in the wake of recent criticism and has stressed that the Argentine doesn’t need to score goals to make an impact.

The former Real Madrid striker has yet to find the net in Serie A this term, but Benitez is pleased with the 26-year-old’s contribution.

“Higuain hasn’t scored in Serie A yet, but he can make the difference with assists too,” Benitez told Sky Sport.

“We know that there are many players in this squad who can get goals.”

Napoli beat Sassuolo 1-0 on Sunday to climb to eighth spot in the table after a difficult start to the season and Benitez feels the win was a just reward for their hard work

“I see this as a victory for the team that rewarded our mentality.

“We only suffered for the final 10 minutes. Clearly every victory can help and we proved that we deserved more from this season.

“We were all united and we earned three important points. We worked very well in defence and Sassuolo only created problems with long balls. We were balanced.

“I think we still need to improve, but I am satisfied with this victory. We know that we are a strong club who deserved to win more games this term.”

Meanwhile, Napoli director Riccardo Bigon has insisted that Benitez’s job is not on the line.

“Benitez is a coach with a lot of experience and great achievements. He has won several trophies throughout his career. His results and working methods cannot be put in doubt.”

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