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Napoli slump to Empoli loss in Champions League setback

Napoli’s hopes of squeezing into the Champions League suffered another setback on Saturday when they slumped to a 1-0 loss at struggling Empoli in Serie A.

Alberto Cerri scored the only goal of the game after just four minutes when he rose unchallenged to head in at the back post.

It was his first top-flight goal in three years.

Empoli could have had a second goal later in the opening period but Nicolo Cambiaghi’s powerful drive came back off the post.

The result left defending champions Napoli in eighth place, six points behind Roma who currently occupy the fifth and final qualifying spot for next season’s Champions League.

Empoli moved to 15th place in the table, four points above the drop zone.

Italy were this week granted five places in the elite club competition instead of four after its teams secured a top two spot in the UEFA coefficient standings.

Roma and Atalanta both made the semi-finals of the Europa League on Thursday while Fiorentina are in the last four of the Europa Conference League.

That means that Italy has a coefficient of 19.428 points, ahead of Germany (17.928 points) and England (17.375) and will take one of two extra spots in the tournament.

The Champions League will have 36 teams in the group stage from next season, four more than this term.

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