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April 26, 2014
• Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano
Referee: N. Rizzoli
• Attendance: 47119
I'm Alex Moretto and I'd like to thank you all for joining me here today for some late night Serie A action. I hope you enjoyed the action as much as I did. Good bye!
The Partenopei inch closer to clinching a Champions League place, needing a combination of two points gained or dropped by Fiorentina to clinch third place.
FULL-TIME: INTER 0-0 NAPOLI. Despite a plethora of chances, neither team can find a breakthrough as we end the night the same way we started. Pepe Reina was on top form today, while Inter were valiant in defence. The two teams finish scoreless for the first time since 1993/94.
90' + 4'
Inter pass it around in defence, trying to play out the final few minutes, but a giveaway leads to a Napoli corner. They hardly commit enough men forward, as Handanovic catches and clears.
90' + 2'
WHY IS EVERYONE AFRAID TO SHOOT? Guarin is sent in on goal and has a clear shooting chance from in close, but opts to inexcusably pass it across the face of goal. Hamsik is tracking back exceptionally well to intercept and clear the danger.
Five minutes to be added on here...
The game is moving at a snails pace now as we approach the 90 minute mark. Cambiasso is whistled for a challenge, and now we have another delay as Palacio is down suffering from what appears to be a cramp.
Higuain is forced to come off, head in hands as he's carried off the pitch. Tough to see that happen to anyone, but let's hope it isn't serious. Pandev comes on to replace him, with four minutes plus added time remaining for either time to find a breakthrough.
WHAT A TACKLE! Higuain takes a pass at the top of the box and takes a few steps forward, finding space for a shot. He puts everything into the shot, but Andreolli slides in with a strong tackle, that Higuain swings his foot into. He's in considerable pain with the medical staff taking him off on the stretcher.
Yellow Card Faouzi Ghoulam
OFF THE POST! WOW! Just as I say a draw is looking more likely, both teams come up with some incredible chances! First Inter break into the area with Kovacic picking out Nagatomo with a sensational pass. The Japanese wing-back gets in close but can't beat Reina with his shot. Back on the counter come Napoli, and Inler is sent clean through on goal. He sends Handanovic the wrong way, but puts his shot off the inside of the post! Somehow we're still scoreless!
Into the final ten minutes now with a draw looking more and more likely. Neither team seems to eager to go for goal, but rather play out this scoreless draw and avoiding dropping any points.
Napoli pass it around well in the attacking half, patiently looking for a way through. As they continue to work it around, Jorginho gets on the end of a short pass and has a ridiculous attempt from distance. Wasted possession there from the midfielder who has been awfully quiet today.
STAT ATTACK: Inter have scored more than 60 percent of their goals this season in the second half, and nearly a quarter of them in the final 15 minutes of their games.
Another change from Inter now as Guarin comes on for Hernanes. The Colombian should add some fire and spark to the hosts in attack as they search for a late winner.
NEARLY A BREAKTHROUGH! Great work by Insigne to take on two defenders and pass it off for Higuain. The Argentine with a sensational turn to beat Campagnaro, but fires high and wide from in close! He really needed to drive that low across the face of goal.
Napoli make a change of their own now, as Dries Mertens gives way for Marek Hamsik. The two players are very similar, but Hamsik should benefit more in the central role than the Belgian did, as he usually flourishes on the flanks.
Finally the first change of the match is upon us, but it's not exactly a positive one from Inter who bring on Javier Zanetti for the now injured D'Ambrosio. Zanetti sure has been around the block, but he won't provide much in terms of attack compared to what the Italian brought to the table.
Inter are just starting to lose their potency in attack. They have men forward, and D'Ambrosio sends a ball across the face of goal but no one is there to meet it. It eventually falls to Nagatomo, but he mishits his pass and the chance is gone.
The game is being played in large part in midfield at the moment, something we hardly saw earlier on in this match. Napoli should look to bring on Behrami or Hamsik in midfield, to help better link-up play between the the midfield and forwards. Inter need to be more clinical up front, and perhaps should consider the likes of Diego Milito.
Very nice run from Nagatomo who beats Henrique before passing in to Icardi. The Argentine lays it off for Hernanes, but his shot is blocked. Icardi goes to ground as he lands awkwardly, and the stretcher comes out. It looks as though it's a right knee injury. He refuses to get onto the stretcher and limps off under his own power.
Yellow Card Hernanes
An hour gone in this one now with no breakthrough to be found, however, not for a lack of chances. The pace has again slowed down. It's hard to keep up the end to end action we've had for the greater part of the match thus far. It may be time for both managers to bring on some fresh legs.
STAT ATTACK: Gonzalo Higuain has scored just once in Napoli’s past seven league matches away from home. In comparison, he has six goals from his last seven matches in front of his home fans.
Albiol is ushered to the sidelines, walking there under his own power as play resumes. Substitutes warming up for both sides, but it doesn't appear as though Albiol will have to come off here.
A stoppage in play now as Reina lunges out to fist away a Nagatomo cross, and punishes Albiol on the follow-through. The defender is down and appears considerably shaken up with the medical staff on to attend to him.
PALACIO! Nagatomo sends in a wonderful cross for Palacio who heads it just wide of the near post! End to end stuff to kick-off this second half!
UNBELIEVABLE! STILL 0-0, SOMEHOW! Napoli increase the pressure, and a deflected ball into the box falls for Higuain. He takes a touch and smacks the ball towards goal from seven yards out, but Nagatomo valiantly blocks the attempt when it looked like a sure goal! Pressure isn't relieved as Mertens chips it towards Insigne at the far post. He tries to side-foot his shot into the far corner but Handanovic gets across to make the save! Incredible stuff!
Napoli are enjoying a bit of possession early on in this half, something they couldn't manage for much of the opening 45 minutes. Mertens makes a nice run, but Ranocchia does well to track it and sniff out the danger.
The second half is underway at the San Siro with the two teams still looking for a breakthrough. There hasn't been a scoreless draw in this fixture since the 1993/94 season!
STAT ATTACK: Inter have drawn the most matches in the league this season, 14, while their eight draws at home are joint most with Bologna.
HALF-TIME: INTER 0-0 NAPOLI. The hosts pushed the pace for the majority of the first half, but couldn't manage to beat Pepe Reina who appears to be on top of his game today. Napoli on the other hand have had success playing for the counter, but haven't generated enough turnovers in midfield to really provide for them with the opportunities to break. Jose Callejon remains the goat of the first half as he missed two glorious chances to put the visitors in front.
No added time says the referee as we head to the break after one of the most exciting scoreless 45 minutes you will see!
Kovacic again the orchestrator of another Inter attack! His vision is superb, as he picks out another wonderful pass into the box for Icardi but it's called back for an offside.
The pace has slowed significantly now as we approach half-time. Napoli will likely be looking to see this through to the break, while Inter hardly want a momentary lapse of concentration to undo such a wonderful display in the first half.
Napoli have to do a better job of pressuring the decimated Inter back three, who are without the suspended Walter Samuel and Rolando, and the injured Juan Jesus. They continue to sit back and play for the counter attack, which they have had success with this season, but you just feel that if they get some pressure on the back three they will make some mistakes.
Yellow Card Henrique
Inter are right back in attack now applying the pressure to Napoli's back four. Palacio gets around Albiol and tries to curl a cross towards Icardi at the far post, but it runs behind for a goal kick. Inter with plenty of chances but are just lacking that final ball or finish at the moment.
Excellent strike from Inler. He takes a pass 25 yards out, and takes a few steps forward, with the defece dropping fast. He takes the opportunity to go for goal, but fires just over the bar!
STAT ATTACK: A win today would give Inter three consecutive league victories for the first time this season.
Great defending by Ghoulam! Inter again find a way through as Palacio is slipped in behind the defence. He waits just a second too long to get his shot off, however, as Ghoulam races across the pitch from his left-back position to get a vital block in. Inter really pressing here!
HOW IS THIS GAME STILL SCORELESS? Inter work the ball around beautifully outside the box. Kovacic and Palacio link up, and the Croatian picks out Icardi inside the box. He may have been better off shooting first time, but tries to cut by Britos without any success, as he loses the ball and the great chance fizzles out.
After a lengthy discussion, Palacio takes the free kick and gets his shot on target, but again it's an easy one for Reina to stop.
Yellow Card Miguel Angel Britos
Controversy rears its ugly head! Icardi sends a ball through for Palacio who is taken down by Britos just outside the area, or he would have been through on goal. The foul is given and a yellow card is shown to Britos, but Inter are furious as the defender was the last man back and they want to see a red card.
Back the other way we go with an electric pace! Inter win a free kick just outside the area and it's Kovacic who takes. He curls his low shot around the wall and towards the far corner, but Reina is positioned well as he is able to get down without much trouble to make the save.
WHAT IS CALLEJON THINKING?! Another shocking mistake by the Callejon, who should have two goals by now! Insigne sends a sensational ball to the forward along the right, and he breaks into the box in plenty of space. He couldn't ask to be in a better shooting position, but rather opts to try and cut it back for Higuain who has two defenders by his side and the chance goes begging!
This game has a superb pace to it early on, and we have one of the first fouls of the match close to 20 minutes in. Cambiasso is whistled for an illegal tackle, and Napoli have a chance from 30 yards out off a free kick. Mertens is the one to take, but he drills it over the bar.
PALACIO! Another Inter counter nearly results in a goal for the Argentine. Palacio races forward with Icardi to his left, but opts to have a shot. It sneaks through the legs of Britos and beyond the outstretched arms of Reina, however, just wide of the far post.
STAT ATTACK: Napoli ended a run of eight consecutive Inter victories over them at the San Siro with a 3-0 triumph on October 1, 2011 thanks to goals from Campagnaro, Maggio and Hamsik. Those remain the only points the Partenopei have managed away to Inter since December 1994.
HOW DID HE MISS THAT?! A lovely little ball over the top from Mertens picks out the run of Callejon, who has the goal at his mercy from six yards out but side foots it wide - can't believe it's not 1-0!
ANOTHER FINE SAVE! Reina very busy early on here! This time it's Kovacic who makes a nice run and breaks into the box before having a go at goal. He tries to slot in at the near post, but Reina just gets his fingertips to it, pushing it behind. The ensuing corner is also dealt with by the Spaniard, as he rushes out of his goal to fist it away from danger.
FANTASTIC EFFORT FROM HERNANES! Cambiasso sniffs out Higuain in attack and starts up an Inter counter attack. Palacio races forward on the ball before cutting it back for Hernanes. The Brazilian strikes it with power from 25 yards out, but Reina dives to his right to make a great stop.
Inter back at it and again it's Kovacic at the heart of things. He finds some space with some nice dribbling skill, then sends a great ball towards D'Ambrosio on the right. The Italian is always eager to push forward, but this time he can't quite reach the ball before it rolls out of play for a goal kick.
SHOUTS FOR A PENALTY! Kovacic goes down as he tries to dribble inside the box, but the referee is in great position to make the call and he sees nothing wrong with the play. In fact, upon a quick glance at the replay, it appears as though Kovacic may have been lucky not to be booked for a dive as he went down with minimal, if any contact.
Napoli break forward right at the start and win an early corner. It's pushed up the field by Inter and after a giveaway by both teams, the ball falls for Hernanes who gets off the first shot of the match. It wasn't the greatest effort, however, as Reina collects with ease.
Napoli kick off and we're underway in Milan! The visitors, moving left to right, are sporting their all baby blue kits, while Inter are wearing their black and blue stripes.
The players have taken to the pitch meaning we are just minutes from kick-off at the San Siro! Erick Thohir has a smile on his face as he shakes a few hands in the crowd, but the jitters are likely on their way as his Inter team look to pick up a massive three points today.
Three players are suspended from participating in this match - Walter Samuel and Rolando for Inter, and Federico Fernandez for Napoli.
NAPOLI SUBS: Reveillere, Colombo, Mesto, Hamsik, Zuniga, Pandev, Dzemaili, Radosevic, Behrami, Doblas, Zapata.
NAPOLI XI (4-2-3-1): Reina; Henrique, Albiol, Britos, Ghoulam; Jorginho, Inler; Callejon, Mertens, Insigne; Higuain.
INTER SUBS: Zanetti, Castellazzi, Guarin, Kuzmanovic, Botta, Taider, Milito, Carrizo.
INTER XI (3-5-2): Handanovic; Campagnaro, Ranocchia, Andreolli; D'Ambrosio, Hernanes, Cambiasso, Kovacic, Nagatomo; Palacio, Icardi.
The teams have been announced, so let us have ourselves a look at today's starting line-ups:
Napoli can clinch a third place finish and a spot in next season's Champions League qualification round with a victory here today. They will have perhaps hoped for more after a summer of spending which led many to pick them as Juventus' toughest competitors for the title. Despite their inability to pose any sort of threat on the Scudetto, the Partenopei will undoubtedly be content to settle for a second consecutive spot in Europe's most prestigious competition.
Walter Mazzarri is hoping to lead Inter to a return to European competition next season, while a win here today would go a long way in helping to lead the club to a fourth place finish and an automatic berth in next season's Europa League. The Nerazzurri have come on strong as of late after a disappointing start to the season, and it has left them in a position to knock Fiorentina off their perch and finish in the top four.
Good evening Serie A fans around the world, and welcome to what promises to be a thrilling match between Inter and Napoli at the San Siro. I'm Alex Moretto and I'll be your in-game host, guiding you through the match LIVE as it happens!
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