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Italy - Serie A
October 19, 2014
• Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano
Referee: D. Orsato
• Attendance: 40383
F. Guarín 82'
José Callejón 79', 90'
Napoli are still eight points off the pace, while Inter sit even further back, 10 points behind leaders Juventus. With that, I bid you all goodbye.
That's the end of a thriller. After looking for so long like we wouldn't have a goal, the teams come up with four in the last 11 minutes to keep us all on the edge of our seats. I have to say that the draw is the fairest result, all things considered.
90' + 5'
HOW CLOSE WAS THAT! Mbaye is treated to a free header at the near post, and he half peels off in celebration before realising that it was the wrong side of the woodwork!
90' + 4'
Handanovic grabs the corner and on Inter's next attack, a high ball causes panic and leads to a corner of their own. One last chance...
90' + 3'
Late corner for Napoli, and anything can happen...
90' + 1'
90' + 1'
INTER PULL IT BACK AGAIN! INSANITY! Dodo stands up a lovely ball to the far post, and Hernanes, on the move, rises to plant a lovely header into the far side! No less than the Brazilian deserved!
Assist David López
Goal José Callejón
CALLEJOOOOOOOOOOON!!! HE HAS DONE IT AGAIN! The ball comes over the top and catches the Inter defence fast asleep. Callejon was the only man on the move, and his dart to the far post puts him in position to slot home what is surely the winner!
Napoli still on the ball and still looking the more likely side to grab a winner here. Inter would do well to hold onto this draw at this stage! What a change from the first half.
Napoli dominating the ball in the last minute or two as they look to construct a final chance. Vdic does superbly to track Higuain's run and block the striker inside the area!
Yellow Card Juan Jesus
Mazzarri has been sent off by the way, for entering the field of play. Adds another twist to what is sure to be a cracking finish to this match. After waiting so long for a goal, we've gotten them like the proverbial London bus. Is there another in store?
Assist Mauro Icardi
Goal F. Guarín
INTER ARE LEVEL! Guarin's been only on the pitch for a few seconds! Inter win the first header from a corner, and it falls for the Colombian at the far post, who turns the ball in!
Is this another San Siro shocker? Inter are trailing, after bossing the majority of this game, and creating by far the better chances. Less than 10 minutes for them to get back into this.
Goal José Callejón
NAPOLI HAVE TAKEN THE LEAD! A long throw from Napoli catches Vidic and Dodo in dire straits, and the ball breaks kindly for Callejon, who does the rest from close range!
Britos takes his sweet time to walk off the pitch, which tells its own story - Napoli are quite happy to take a point home from this game. On comes Ghoulam for the final stretch.
Miguel Angel Britos
Yellow card here for Jorginho, who brought down Kovacic in full view of the referee. Starting to get a bit scrappy out on the pitch as the game remains goalless. Sixteen minutes left.
Yellow Card Jorginho
Mertens does well to nip the ball off Medel's toes inside the Inter half, and he wastes no time in having a go on goal. However, Handanovic is all over it. Could have caused a lot more danger with that chance.
Higuain thought that he was fouled, but no free kick is forthcoming. The Argentine is furious, and lets the referee know it once again. He got away with such an outburst in the first half, but the ref is not letting it slide this time. Yellow card for the striker.
Yellow Card Gonzalo Higuaín
That's the end of the game for Insigne, and we finally see Mertens on the pitch. Statement from Benitez, who feels like the points are there for the taking now. And why not?
Inler, not for the first time tonight, whacks a speculative shot well over the bar on the volley. The papers would have been talking about that for weeks if that had gone in.
Hernanes and Kovacic haven't been as influential as they were in the first half. The pair were trampling all over their Napoli counterparts in the opening half, creating chances and finding space at will. Different ball game now though.
This game is so finely poised at the moment. Inter are surely ruing their profligacy in the first half, as Napoli have looked a better side since the restart and stand just as good of a chance of taking maximum points from this game.
Hernanes runs right into his man, and the Inter fans are screaming for a foul. To be fair, neither the Brazilian nor his teammates were appealing for anything there, as they realized that is was accidental.
Napoli make their first sub of the game. It's been an underwhelming night to say the least for Hamsik, but surprisingly, it's Jorginho coming on, in favour of a more offensive option like Mertens.
Obi has done his job for the night, as the Nigerian is replaced by Mbaye.The youngster spent last season on loan at Livorno, and signed a new contract recently at the club.
VIDIC! As he has done so often in the colours of Manchester United, the Serbian centre back dominates all and sundry in the air on a set piece. He sends a towering header in on goal, but just fails to make clean enough contact, and it goes narrowly over the bar.
Hernanes does excellently to drive forward from his own half and evade two men on his way to the top of the box. He spays it wide to Icardi in support, but the striker can't get it out from under his feet in time. Hernanes could have probably played the pass earlier, when the defence was still reacting to the situation.
That's the second time this game that Ranocchia takes aim from long range. And for the second time, he's off the mark. Napoli will accepts efforts like that from Inter all day and twice on Sunday.
Inter have been slow out of the blocks in the second half. Napoli have looked the more comfortable side. They're starting to work together as a team, and initiate their efforts to win the ball back higher up the field.
OFF THE POST! Hamsik bursts past his man and spreads the ball forward just before the challenge comes in. Insigne is inexplicably left in acres of space at the far post, but he can't make it count! He fails to hit the target! That was the chance for Napoli to throw this game wide open.
No subs at the half-time break. However, the longer the game stays goalless, the longer the natives will get restless, which will play into Napoli's hands. Interesting times ahead.
Here we go again.
It's mainly been rearguard action from the visitors, who were fortunate to avoid conceding, especially after Hernanes hit the post. Benitez will want a lot more from his men in the second half.
It's half time here at San Siro, after an opening period of largely one-way traffic. Somehow, Inter have not gone ahead. This has been an excellent response from Mazzarri's men after recent debacles against Fiorentina and Cagliari.
45' + 1'
To add insult to earlier injury, Britos gets booked for a tug back on Obi. One booking apiece now, and not a smart one to pick up just before half time. Given his earlier hamstring woes, I'm surprised that Britos has lasted this long.
Yellow Card Miguel Angel Britos
Insigne plays a really clever ball over the top to find the run of Higuain, but Handanovic does just as well to race off his line and punch the ball away from the Argentine striker.
The stats tell the story. Inter have fired in 14 shots on goal to Napoli's four. They've had a 60-40 edge in possession, while they've completed nearly double the number of passes as their opponents.
INTER HIT THE POST! Hernanes takes the ball down on his chest with an excellent piece of skill. It takes him away from goal, but he makes excellent contact with the ball on the turn, but strikes the base of the near post! Rafael was probably beaten!
The first half has just flown by! Inter are absolutely bossing this game and will be disappointed that they haven't tested Rafael as much as they should have. Still time for that to change though.
Yellow Card Hernanes
First booking of the game, and it goes to an Inter player. Napoli had the chance to break forward on a rare counter attack, but Hernanes went right through Insigne to cut out the break. Easy decision for the referee.
Yet another Inter shot. Andrea Ranocchia this time joins in on the fun, but he can't find the target. He was set up by Kovacic, who has been running things in the middle with Hernanes.
Kovacic finds space out wide to deliver the cross, and he goes for the head of Icardi centrally. Once again though, Rafael is behind it, and makes the save to keep the scores knotted at 0-0.
Handanovic has just been forced into action down at the other end, as Hamsik escaped towards the near post. The Slovakian was at an extreme angle, but that doesn't stop him from hitting the target. Handanovic had it covered all the way though.
Another shot on goal from Inter, as Kovacic and Hernanes combine to rob Napoli of the ball in their own half. The ball drops for the latter, 25 yards out, but his shot is rushed horribly, and sails miles over.
A corner from Hernanes goes deep to the far side, but Juan Jesus heads it back towards the far post. Kovacic is there battling with his marker, but he can't escape in time to get to the ball ahead of Rafael.
Higuain is fortunate to escape a booking. He was called for an offside, and kicked the ball away in frustration, before appearing to say something which I'm sure wasn't very PG. I can only assume that the referee didn't hear him.
CLOSE SHAVE! Dodo cuts in to put in a cross with his right foot. Not something you see every day. Icardi makes contact in the area ahead of his man, but he flashes his header just wide of the target! Rafael, stretching, probably wasn't getting there.
Napoli are starting to force the action away from their goal, but they're still lacking cohesion in midfield. That front midfield three of Insigne, Higuain and Callejon hasn't really gotten involved in the game.
This is turning into one-way traffic as the first half progresses. Inter are dominating all of the ball, and as evidenced by that last Icardi opening, are starting to find the gaps that could prove telling.
OVER THE BAR! First genuine chance of the game. Hernanes picks a lovely area to play his pass into, and Icardi peels away from the last defender to have a pop, but it's turned over for a corner!
Still goalless here with a quarter of an hour gone. The signs don't point to that scoreline staying the same for the entirety of the patch though. Inter have found some half chances already, while Higuain has made some dangerous runs behind the defence on the break.
We have our first shot on target, but it comes from the visitors, against the run of play. Juan Zuniga, enemy of the Brazilian state, lets fly from the right side of the box, but it's saved easily by Samir Handanovic.
Britos has rejoined the fray, and his first contribution is to give up a corner, from which Hernanes makes contact with a header, but can't trouble Rafael. Good start this from the hosts.
Miguel Britos has pulled up here, and doesn't look in good shape. All signs point to a hamstring injury, and the game is stopped as he gingerly makes his way to the sidelines to receive treatment. Not sure how long he'll remain with us.
Inter starting to pepper shots in on Rafael's goal! Mauro Icardi misses with a header after Rodrigo Palacio's cross, before Hernanes' effort from distance goes wide of the mark.
Higuain has the chance to fashion space for a shot on the turn, but he's unable to caress the ball with a deft enough first touch. That leaves Nemanja Vidic with an easy ball to mop up.
This is the 137th previous meeting between these two sides. Inter have edged the overall statistics with 62 wins, while Napoli have notched 42 victories. For those keeping score, that leaves 32 draws between the pair.
Christian Maggio has been dropped, while Gonzalo Higuain leads the line for the visitors, despite not scoring a goal this season in Serie A. Jose Callejon, Lorenzo Insigne and Marek Hamsik make up the trio behind the Argentine in Benitez's preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.
The international break wasn't kind to Inter, who lost Daniel Osvaldo, Danilo D’Ambrosio and Yuto Nagatomo to injury for this game. Mateo Kovacic tweaked his groin for Croatia and Chile's Gary Medel lost two teeth while facing Peru, but the pair still start tonight.
Napoli bench: Andujar, Colombo, Henrique, De Guzman, Jorginho, Maggio, Mertens, Mesto, Michu, Ghoulam, Zapata.
Napoli (4-2-3-1): Rafael; Zuniga, Albiol, Koulibaly, Britos; Inler, David Lopez; Insigne, Hamsik, Callejon; Higuain.
Inter bench: Carrizo, Berni, Andreolli, Guarin, Kuzmanovic, Mbaye, Krhin, M’Vila, Bonazzoli.
Inter (3-5-2): Handanovic; Ranocchia, Vidic, Juan Jesus; Obi, Hernanes, Medel, Kovacic, Dodo; Palacio, Icardi.
Napoli have had the measure of Inter in recent times, winning three of their last five meetings. However, no one will want a repeat of the corresponding fixture from last season, a bore 0-0 draw at San Siro in April. Goals have certainly flown in at either end during Inter's home games so far and given that Napoli have won twice on the road already, expect to be kept entertained tonight.
San Siro hasn't been a happy place for Walter Mazzarri recently. The Inter boss has been hearing the frustration of the crowd directed at him after the Cagliari debacle. Three points here, against his former club no less, will go some way to mending that bridge.
Napoli have only now begun to string some wins together after a few terrible opening results. Three straight victories have seen things take a more positive turn for Rafa Benitez's men, who could move to within six points of first place with another win here.
Both sides haven't started the season as well as they would have hoped. Inter's last match before the international break was a comprehensive 3-0 defeat to Fiorentina, which itself came on the heels of an embarrassing 4-1 defeat at home to Cagliari.
Inter host Napoli at San Siro. Join me, Keeghann Sinanan, for all the action.
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