Sunday, 30 November 2008

Inter On Fire ! Beat Napoli 2-1

Inter Defeat Napoli To Go Six Points Clear

Team News & Build-Up

Inter were in fine form domestically, but had suffered a shock Champions League home defeat against Panathinaikos in midweek. The Nerazzurri were looking to immediately bounce back, but had to make do without the injured Christian Chivu, Patrick Vieira and Tyson Rivas. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Julio Cruz started in attack.

Napoli had endured a dip in form just recently, and were minus the services of injured defender Matteo Contini. Coach Edy Reja sprung a shock before kick-off by dropping Fabiano Santacroce and Manuele Blasi to the bench, with Leandro Rinaudo and Michele Pazienza taking their places. Marcelo Zalayeta partnered Ezequiel Lavezzi up-front.

First Half

Daniele Mannini had the first attempt of the game for Napoli after two minutes as he sliced well wide from long range. Some good build-up play from Christian Maggio and Marek Hamsik then opened up the space for a tame Marcelo Zalayeta snapshot.

Inter threatened for the first time on 15 minutes when Javier Zanetti saw his 20-yard effort deflected over the crossbar. From the ensuing corner, the home side broke the deadlock. A short corner saw Sulley Muntari cross towards the far post, and Ivan Cordoba unleashed a fabulous first time half volley with his left foot into the corner of the net.

Napoli tried to hit back, and Lavezzi burst into life midway through the half by winning a free kick outside the area following a trademark solo run. Walter Gargano curled the ball over the wall, but Julio Cesar was alert.

Moments later though it was 2-0. A brilliant backheel by Cruz freed Maicon to burst into the area, and the Brazilian fired a low cross-come-shot into the middle, which was turned home from close range by Muntari.

Napoli were struggling to make an impact offensively, but there were cries for a penalty just past the half-hour mark when Zalayeta tumbled inside the area under pressure from Walter Samuel and Muntari. The referee waved away the appeals, Inter counter-attacked, and Dejan Stankovic lashed over the bar.

It seemed all too easy for Inter, but on 36 minutes Napoli got themselves back into the game thanks to a simply sensational goal by Lavezzi. The Argentine went on another slalom, leaving Samuel for dead, before playing a one-two with Zalayeta, who executed a delightful back-heeled through ball into the path of Lavezzi. Now one-on-one with Julio Cesar, Lavezzi finished the move effortlessly by dinking the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper.

Lavezzi tried his luck again before half time, but his flicked header was easy for Julio Cesar, as the two teams went in at half time with the game very much still open.

Second Half

Within 30 seconds of the restart, Lavezzi had a chance to equalise as he ran onto a through ball, but he was denied at the last second by a crucial Samuel challenge.

Javier Zanetti's long range shot deflected high and wide for Inter, but Napoli were looking threatening when they came forward, and space opened up for Maggio before Pazienza sliced off-target.

Cruz nodded the ball down for Dejan Stankovic, but his finish was wayward, while down the other end Zalayeta and Mannini both unsuccessfully tried their luck from long range.

Ibrahimovic had not been at his best, but he showed a bit of spark on the hour mark by beating Cannavaro and firing in a powerful left footed shot that Gennaro Iezzo palmed away at the near post.

There was then a bit of a lull in terms of goalmouth action. Both sides made changes, as Napoli brought on Manuele Blasi and German Denis, and Inter introduced Adriano for Julio Cruz.

Stankovic fired off target again, but on 79 minutes there was a nervous moment in the Inter defence as Lavezzi surged through and went down in the area, but the referee booked the forward for simulation. Replays showed that he had received a nudge from Maxwell, but it was perhaps not enough for a penalty.

With five minutes remaining Zanetti missed a fantastic chance to kill the game, when he pounced on a Cannavaro error, but he was thwarted by Iezzo in a one-on-one situation.

Ibrahimovic lashed a free kick wide in injury time, as Inter held on to open up a six-point lead at the top of Serie A. Milan could close this back to three again if they win tonight at Palermo.


Inter: Julio Cesar, Maicon, Cordoba, Samuel, Maxwell, Cambiasso, Muntari (Jimenez 89), Zanetti, Stankovic (Burdisso 83), Cruz (Adriano 72), Ibrahimovic

Napoli: Iezzo, Cannavaro, Rinaudo, Aronica, Pazienza (Bogliacino 83), Gargano, Maggio (Denis 78), Mannini, Hamsik (Blasi 65), Lavezzi, Zalayeta


Cordoba 16 (I)
Muntari 24 (I)
Lavezzi 36 (N)

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