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December 9, 2012
• Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano
Referee: N. Rizzoli
• Attendance: 41000
F. Guarín 8'
D. Milito 39'
E. Cavani 54'
Napoli look to bounce back and reignite their Scudetto charge when they host Bologna next Sunday whilst Inter face a difficult test away at Lazio on Saturday evening. That's all from me, Max Bentley, on what has been a pulsating affair at the Giuseppe Meazza. Until next time, good night!
It was a fantastic advert for Serie A football, with plenty of quality on show and filled with end-to-end entertainment. Fredy Guarin, who opened the scoring with that wonderful volley, won't have many better games in an Inter jersey.
FULL TIME: INTER 2 - 1 NAPOLI. The Nerazzurri claim a valuable three points despite being on the back foot for the majority of that second period. Edinson Cavani's poached effort looked like it might spark a Napoli comeback after first-half goals from Fredy Guarin and Diego Milito, but it is Andrea Stramaccioni's side who triumph today, tasting success over the Partenopei for the first time in six meetings. They move into second place, four points behind Juventus.
90' + 3'
Miguel Britos is penalised for a foul on Fredy Guarin. That should signal the end of this game. All Inter need to do is hold onto the ball.
90' + 2'
Into the dying embers of this match, can Napoli fashion one more opening on Handanovic's goal?
90' + 1'
Brilliant finish to this game! Edinson Cavani lets fly with a powerful effort from the edge of the box which strikes Andrea Ranocchia and deflects over the crossbar. I'm not sure he knew too much about that but it was a crucial block.
SO CLOSE FROM PALACIO! The Argentine striker does excellently to outmuscle Behrami and get to the byline before he cuts back inside and sends a low drive towards goal, which shaves the outside of the post. There will be three minutes of stoppage time.
GLORIOUS CHANCE FOR NAPOLI! Lorenzo Insigne, who has been impressive for the Partenopei today, floats a freekick into the Inter box, which Maggio meets, completely unmarked, but he can only head straight into the gloves of Handanovic. He should really have done better!
Heart-in-mouth moment for Pereira! Edinson Cavani finds space on the left wing before sending a low cross into the box, intended for Lorenzo Insigne, which Alvaro Pereira completely miscues and is fortunate to see the ball creep around the post and out for a Napoli corner. He so nearly diverted that into his own net!
Final roll of the dice for Walter Mazzarri as Hamsik, who appears to have picked up a slight knock, is replaced by Mesto.
Inter nearly seal the victory late on when Guarin plays a ball over the top looking for the run of Nagatomo, but Handanovic is off his line quickly to parry the ball to safety.
Javier Zanetti uses his experience to defend excellently against Marek Hamsik. This Inter defence are doing an excellent job of stopping the supply to Cavani.
A stoppage in play as Edinson Cavani and Juan Jesus are involved in a spot of handbags. When the eventual corner is taken, it goes straight out of play, to the frustration of Walter Mazzarri. Into the final ten minutes.
Inter are beginning to sit back deeper and deeper into their own half. Can they hold on for a valuable home victory and claim their first win over Napoli in six meetings?
Napoli nearly snatch an equaliser when Insigne's cross-come-shot rolls across the goalmouth, but Handanovic is on hand to prevent Cavani from converting at the back post.
Potential matchwinner Diego Milito is the next player to be substituted for Inter and he is replaced by Brazilian starlet Philippe Coutinho.
Napoli continue to attack in numbers but they cannot find that pass to penetrate the Inter defence. Cambiasso has been solid in his makeshift position at centre-back.
Lorenzo Insigne's corner is delivered into a fantastic area but Yuto Nagatomo rises above Valon Behrami to head the ball clear. You get the feeling there are still more goals to come in this game. Into the final twenty minutes.
Fredy Guarin is at the heart of everything tonight and he receives Milito's pass on the edge of the box but loses his footing at the vital moment and sends a shot high over the bar.
Inter come forward once again and Guarin looks to play in Palacio with a slide pass, but it is slightly overhit and the chance breaks down.
Fredy Guarin whips in a freekick from a dangerous area but Morgan De Sanctis is off his line to claim comfortably. Good spell for Inter at the moment.
Diego Milito looks to get the better of Paolo Cannavaro with a neat turn on the edge of the box, but the Italian defender reads the play excellently and produces a crucial challenge.
Rodrigo Palacio goes within inches of making an instant impact when he is inches away from converting Alvaro Pereira's low cross. That is the best we have seen from Inter in this second period.
Yellow Card Valon Behrami
Valon Behrami is the next player to be written in the referee's notebook after a late challenge through the back of Diego Milito. Napoli dominating the midfield at present.
Antonio Cassano, who suffered a knock earlier, is replaced by Rodrigo Palacio. Can the Argentine striker influence this game in his side's favour?
Yellow Card Goran Pandev
Yellow Card W. Gargano
Walter Gargano is cautioned for a rash challenge on his former teammate Inler.
Napoli are really in the ascendency now and Maggio tries his luck from distance but sees his fizzing drive fly narrowly past the post. Stramaccioni needs to change something here.
Napoli have their tails up now and Christian Maggio is screaming for a penalty when he goes down under a challenge from Pereira, but the referee waves play on.
Goal Edinson Cavani
NAPOLI PULL ONE BACK! Edinson Cavani atones for his earlier miss when he bundles in from close range after Pandev's shot had been deflected onto the crossbar. I'm not quite sure how Pandev didn't score himself, but Napoli won't care. That is Cavani's eleventh league goal of the season. Game on!
Brilliant save from Handanovic! Hamsik finds Inler with a neat pass on the edge of the box and the Swiss midfielder unleashes a curling left-footed effort which is excellently tipped around the post by the Slovenian goalkeeper. Top save.
Marek Hamsik looks to reduce arrears with his shot from the edge of the box but Zanetti produces a vital block.
NEARLY A THIRD FOR INTER! Alvaro Pereira bursts forward from midfield before playing in Antonio Cassano on the left-hand side of the box. The erratic striker takes his shot early but sees it thunder wide off the outside of the post.
Fredy Guarin has been one of the outstanding performers so far but his strike from the edge of the box slices horribly wide for a goalkick.
Positive start to the second half for Napoli. Walter Mazzarri has clearly sent his side out with a statement of attacking intent.
Early chance for Napoli as Edison Cavani's audacious overhead kick forces Handanovic into a smart save but the linesman's flag was raised.
Attacking half-time substitution for Napoli as Macedonian striker Goran Pandev, who made 67 appearances in his time at Inter, replaces Alessandro Gamberini. Can he score against his former club?
Napoli have really been masters of their own downfall in that first half. Slack defending for the opener before Cavani's golden missed opportunity. Walter Mazzarri's side had responded excellently to going behind and dominated possession for large periods but they now need to stage an almighty comeback if they are to salvage anything from this game.
What did you make of that first half? Can Napoli find a way back into this match? As it stands, Inter will move above Napoli and into second place. Let me know your thoughts and predictions via Twitter @MaxBentley1.
HALF TIME: INTER 2 - 0 NAPOLI. Nicola Rizzoli calls time on a thrilling first half at the Giuseppe Meazza. A well-worked set-piece gave Inter the lead when Guarin volleyed in Antonio Cassano's corner before the Colombian midfielder turned provider for Diego Milito, who notched his eight league goal of the season. Napoli have shown glimpses of their quality and Edison Cavani should have converted from Lorenzo Insigne's cross but it is the Nerazzurri who lead at the break.
45' + 1'
Inter are defending deeply in the dying embers of this first half, looking to preserve their two-goal lead going into the break. Andrea Stramaccioni will be delighted with what he has seen so far.
Juan Zuniga looks to pick out Cavani with a pinpoint pass over the top, but Juan Jesus anticipates the play well and heads clear.
Yellow Card Alessandro Gamberini
Tempers are beginning to flair here and Alessandro Gamberini is the first Napoli player in the book for a mistimed challenge. Can the Partenopei snatch a goal before the break?
Napoli seem shellshocked after that second goal. Cavani wasted a glorious opportunity to equalise with that header and Walter Mazzarri's side have been duly punished. Aside from the goals, Morgan De Sanctis has hardly touched the ball.
Assist F. Guarín
Goal Diego Milito
INTER DOUBLE THEIR TALLY!! They have been on the back foot for the past ten minutes but it is the home side who have extended their lead. Fredy Guarin is the architect as he controls a Napoli clearance before slipping in Diego Milito in the box and the Argentine striker does the rest, holding off Miguel Britos before firing low into the bottom corner. Morgan De Sanctis got a hand to it but he could not keep it out. Jubilation for the Nerazzurri and Milito, who has now scored eight goals in the Serie A this campaign.
Marek Hamsik is looking to pull the strings in midfield for Napoli but he has not found that killer pass just yet. He attempts to send Christian Maggio away with a superb diagonal pass but Handanovic is off his line quickly to claim.
Napoli are certainly on top at the moment but they are yet to really trouble Samir Handanovic.
Valon Behrami's low cross is cleared to the edge of the box by Diego Milito, but Gokhan Inler cannot keep his effort down and sees his vicious drive rise over the crossbar.
End-to-end entertainment here at the Giuseppe Meazza with both sides looking to score. Valon Behrami breaks up an Inter attack and plays a smart ball out to Cavani, but the Uruguayan cannot get past Juan Jesus and the Brazilian defender launches a counterattack of his own.
Cavani is starting to cause the Inter backline real problems now and he seizes onto a Maggio cross before attempting an acrobatic volley, but is denied by a crucial interception from Cambiasso.
Yellow Card Samir Handanoviç
YOU EXPECT HIM TO SCORE FROM THERE! Lorenzo Insigne whips in a fantastic cross to the back post where Edinson Cavani meets the ball with his head only a few yards out, but somehow sends his effort the wrong side of the post. Huge let-off for Inter!
Cassano is still down after that challenge and a stretcher is brought onto the field of play. Rodrigo Palacio warms up on the touchline but it is unsure whether Cassano will be able to continue.
BRITOS TO THE RESCUE! Antonio Cassano has been very lively in the opening period and he plays a wonderful one-two with Milito and is about to pull the trigger only to be halted by a crunching, last-ditch challenge from Britos. Brilliant defending.
Inter are looking dangerous from set-pieces however and Cassano nearly links up with Milito inside the Napoli box, but the away side just manage to clear their lines.
Napoli are beginning to turn the screw here and Cavani links up well with Hamsik again but the Slovakian playmaker skews his shot narrowly wide from 12 yards.
NAPOLI GO CLOSE!! Marek Hamsik's incise through pass sends Edinson Cavani away and the Uruguayan tricks his way past Esteban Cambiasso before slipping in Lorenzo Insigne. The young striker opts to cut inside and looks to bend the ball into the far corner, but sees it flash just wide.
Yuto Nagatomo drifts in from the right, looking for the run of Antonio Cassano in the box, but his pass goes straight to Miguel Britos and Napoli clear.
Fredy Guarin looks to send Antonio Cassano away with a through ball from within his own half but the striker had strayed offside. Napoli are playing a very high line here.
Juan Jesus has taken a knock and receives some medical attention. That goal was Guarin's third in the league this season.
Napoli have responded excellently to going behind and Lorenzo Insigne's neat flick nearly sets up Marek Hamsik, but the ball is slightly overhit and runs through to Handanovic.
NAPOLI NEARLY PULL LEVEL! Juan Zuniga marauds down the left wing before sending a low cross into the box which Christian Maggio somehow puts over from close range. The Italian international is perhaps relieved to see that the linesman's flag had been raised however.
Assist Antonio Cassano
Goal F. Guarín
1-0 INTER!! With the first opportunity of the game, Andrea Stramaccioni's side take the lead and it is straight off of the training ground. Antonio Cassano drifts a corner deep to the edge of the box, where Fredy Guarin ghosts in, unmarked, to send a thumping volley past Morgan De Sanctis. Perfect start for Inter.
It's been a bright start from Walter Mazzarri's team but neither side have mustered an effort on target so far.
Incidentally, Gamberini is now back on the pitch, sporting a small bandage on his nose.
Fredy Guarin produces a wonderful turn to evade two midfielders before surging towards the Napoli box, but he is halted by a strong challenge from Paolo Cannavaro.
Napoli will be looking for their Swiss midfield pairing of Valon Behrami and Gokhan Inler to dictate the midfield today. Inler has been one of the Partenopei's best performers in recent weeks. It will be an interesting battle up against Walter Gargano and Javier Zanetti.
Early stoppage in play as Alessandro Gamberini receives an elbow from Antonio Cassano and requires treatment.
Nicola Rizzoli, who officiated at Euro 2012, gets this Serie A clash underway.
Rumours that Lavezzi is actually in the stands for tonight's match but the Argentine is yet to be spotted.
Inter have not beaten Napoli in their last five meetings. Ezequiel Lavezzi's strike gave Walter Mazzarri's side a 1-0 victory in their last meeting at Stadio San Paolo back in February.
For the Partenopei, Goran Pandev misses out on the chance to face his former club, meaning that Lorenzo Insigne partners Edinson Cavani up front. Marek Hamsik and Christian Maggio passed late fitness tests and start.
With Walter Samuel suspended, Esteban Cambiasso starts in an unfamiliar position in central defence for the Nerazzurri, whilst there is a return to the starting lineup for Antonio Cassano who partners top goalscorer Diego Milito up front.
Napoli (3-4-1-2): De Sanctis; Gamberini, Cannavaro, Britos; Maggio, Behrami, Inler, Zuñiga; Hamsik; Insigne, Cavani.
Inter (3-5-2) : Handanović; Ranocchia, Cambiasso, Juan Jesus; Nagatomo, Zanetti, Gargano, Guarín, Pereira; Cassano, Milito.
Without any further ado, here is tonight's team news...
While Wesley Sneijder's contract dispute continues to rumble on off the pitch, Andrea Stramaccioni will hope that his side can perform well on it, having ended their three match winless streak with a 1-0 victory away at Palermo last weekend. Napoli suffered a 3-1 home defeat to PSV in the Europa League in midweek, but Walter Mazzarri's outfit have been in good form recently, having been unbeaten in their seven previous matches. Which side can snatch an invaluable three points here today?
Tonight's Serie A clash sees two of the Scudetto contenders go head-to-head as Inter take on Napoli. Juventus' 1-0 victory over Palermo earlier today ensured that the Biaconeri have a five point lead at the top of the table and both managers know that three points are crucial if they are to stay in the hunt for the league title. From the Giuseppe Meazza, my name is Max Bentley and I will be keeping you up-to-date with all the action as it unfolds. Feel free to let me know your thoughts and opinions via Twitter @MaxBentley1.
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