Napoli beaten as Inter revive Serie A title bid

November 22, 2021
Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic (left) celebrates with his teammate Hakan Calhanoglu after scoring his side’s second goal during the Serie A match against Napoli at San Siro Stadium, in Milan, Italy yesterday.
Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic (left) celebrates with his teammate Hakan Calhanoglu after scoring his side’s second goal during the Serie A match against Napoli at San Siro Stadium, in Milan, Italy yesterday.

And then there were none. Serie A leaders Napoli lost for the first time this season as Inter Milan reinvigorated its Italian title bid with a 3-2 win yesterday.

Inter, the defending champion, cut the gap on Napoli and AC Milan to four points after 13 rounds and ended Napoli's status as the last remaining unbeaten team across Europe's five major leagues.

Dries Mertens, who had set up a pulsating finale with his club-record 137th goal for Napoli, missed the chance to equalise in injury time when he blazed his shot over.

"It was a very tactical match and we could have drawn it in the end," said Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti on his first return to the San Siro in Milan since he was fired by Inter after finishing fourth in 2019.

Spalletti's players wore jerseys paying tribute to football great Diego Maradona, who died on November 25 last year.

It was another Argentine who scored the winning goal. Lautaro Martinez scored Inter's third on a counter-attack in the 61st minute, set up by compatriot Joaquin Correa.

Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic preserved the result with a brilliant save to deny Mario Rui in injury time, forcing the ball on to the crossbar, before Mertens' miss.

The visitors had struck first in the 17th when Piotr Zielinski won the ball off Nicolo Barella and ran forward to score from Lorenzo Insigne's pass.

Hakan Calhanoglu equalised with a penalty in the 25th, awarded after Kalidou Koulibaly was penalised through VAR for hand ball, and Ivan Perisic headed Inter's second before the break.

There was a lengthy delay early in the second half following a clash of heads between Napoli's Victor Osimhen and Inter's Milan Skriniar. Osimhen was unable to continue and went off with what looked like a cheekbone injury.

Martinez scored but Mertens ensured a lively finale when he pulled one back in the 78th with a brilliant shot under the crossbar.

There was another hold-up for another clash of heads, between Ospina and Inter striker Edin Dzeko. Both continued with bandaged heads to see the late drama.

TEENAGER RESCUES ROMA

Roma coach Jose Mourinho was facing the prospect of a third straight league game without a win until he brought on Felix Afena-Gyan at Genoa.

The 18-year-old Afena-Gyan scored twice in a 2-0 win to lift Roma to fifth and spoil Andriy Shevchenko's debut as Genoa coach.

Other Sports Stories