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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Benitez: Hamsik 'different' to Gerrard

Rafael Benitez has played down suggestions that Marek Hamsik is a player of Steven Gerrard's calibre but has praised the Napoli midfielder, who scored a brace in his side's 4-2 win over Chievo on Saturday.

Hamsik's second double in as many games moved him clear atop the Serie A scorers charts and helped keep Napoli in first place.

Former Liverpool manager Benitez was asked if he believes Hamsik is Napoli's answer to Gerrard and although he insists there are stark contrasts between the two, the Spaniard was quick to stress the importance of the 26-year-old.

"It's clear he's important to us, he makes room for the other offensive players," Benitez said. "Is Hamsik to Napoli the equivalent of Gerrard to Liverpool? They are different, Hamsik doesn't have Gerrard's strength but more tactical intelligence. He is the strength of this team at this time."

Summer recruit Gonzalo Higuain was also on the scoresheet for Napoli, helping to hide the club's defensive issues.

"There were so many good things today," Benitez added. "We controlled the game and made goals. You could see the team had character and wanted to win.

"A new defender? For us, it's important to work with who we have, then we'll see. Of course there were errors against a tactical opponent but our reaction and ideas were clear tonight."

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