Napoli 1-3 Inter Milan: Lukaku brace leads Conte’s men back to Serie A summit
Inter Milan reclaimed top spot in Serie A on Monday evening with an impressive 3-1 victory against Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo.
With nearest challengers Juventus having racked up a win earlier in the day, the pressure was on for Inter but Romelu Lukaku gave his side the perfect start as he profited from a mistake from Giovanni Di Lorenzo to strike from just outside of the area. The Belgian forward doubled his night’s work as he got on the scoresheet once again before Arkadiusz Milik earned the hosts a lifeline just before the break. Lautaro Martinez killed off any hope for Napoli as he scored Inter’s third just after the hour.
Lukaku on the scoresheet once again
A few chances came and went for either side early on as Lukaku had his effort cleared off of the line despite being offside in the move. Then, Milik passed up another great opportunity as he nodded Lorenzo Insigne’s cross over the crossbar.
It took a mistake though for the league leaders to seize the advantage. Di Lorenzo slipped in the midfield and Lukaku pounced upon the loose ball before driving at the Napoli backline and powering a low shot into the bottom corner via the post for what was his 13th goal of the season so far.
Gennaro Gattuso’s men thought they had got the equaliser midway through the first period as Milik tapped home after Samir Handanovic spilled a shot but the referee ruled the strike out, deciding that the goalkeeper had been fouled in the build up.
Inter double the lead
The game itself was a cracker, with both sides creating chances but Inter were marginally the more dangerous. Napoli stopper Alex Meret had to be at his best to stop Conte’s men doubling the lead as he saved from Lautaro Martinez.
The Italian international would have been very disappointed soon after as the visitors doubled their advantage through Lukaku once again. Afforded far too much space, the in-form striker charged at Kostas Manolas before driving in a shot that Meret really should have held but could not stop finding the back of the net.
Napoli roar back
That second goal did not appear to dampen Napoli spirits though as they searched for a quick foothold. Insigne almost found the net as he forced a great low save out of Handanovic before Jose Callejon and Milik combined, with the latter tapping beyond the Inter goalkeeper to halve the deficit.
Inter’s strength throughout the match was their ability to strike their hosts on the counter-attack and they employed that tactic with ruthless efficiency to restore their two-goal lead in the second-half. This time Candreva was the man to lead the forward momentum, with Manolas failing to clear his cross. The ball fell to Martinez who had an easy task of finishing into an empty net.
Drama continued to be the topic of the match though and Insigne could not have got any closer to making it a nervous closing period of the game for Inter as he smacked a free-kick off of the top of the crossbar.
This match really was a thrilling watch. Throughout the 90 minutes, both sides assembled to create some really eye-catching attacking football. A great advert for Serie A, Inter and Napoli pushed hard for the win. Although, the visitors displayed the better quality and deserved the three points on the day.
Napoli: Meret (5); Rui (6), Di Lorenzo (6), Manolas (5), Hysaj (6) (Lozano (N/A), 81′); Zielinski (6), Pena (6) (Llorente (N/A), 84′), Allan (6); Insigne (6), Milik (7), Callejon (6).
Inter Milan: Handanovic (6); Bastoni (7), de Vrij ()6, Srkiniar (7); Biraghi (6), Gagliardini (6) (Barella (6), 56′), Brozovic (7), Vecino (7) (Sensi (6), 73′), Candreva (6); Martinez (7), Lukaku (8) (Valero (N/A), 88′).
Goals: Lukaku (14′, 33′), Milik (39′), Martinez (62′)
Referee: Daniele Doveri
Yellow Cards: Candreva (29′), Barella (61′), Esposito (71′), Sensi (82′), Skriniar (83′),
Red Cards: N/A
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