Inter took one point behind Milan after a penalty kick scored by Romelu Lukaku to win them over Napoli, which ended with ten men.
Inter trimmed the lead at the top of Serie A, as Romelu Lukaku’s penalty kick scored a tough 1-0 victory over 10-man Napoli at the San Siro on Wednesday.
With local rivals AC Milan drawn 2-2 with Genoa, the Nerazzurri cut the league leaders’ lead in the standings to one point thanks to Lukaku’s penalty kick in the 73rd minute.
The surprise challenge from David Ospina enabled the Belgian striker to claim his fifth consecutive league win with Inter Milan, and with Lorenzo Insigne seeing red because of opposition, it seemed there was no way back to Napoli.
Inter struggled to close the match, even though Samir Handanovic saved twice before stopping the post Andrea Betania from winning a share of the Napoli spoils.
– Inter (Inter_en) December 16, 2020
Napoli suffered an early blow when Dries Mertens appeared to straighten his ankle while taking out a cross before the ball ran out of play and Petagna had to substitute him in the 16th minute.
Lautaro Martinez almost increased their problems within 30 seconds, but his spin shot bounced off after Calido Coulibaly’s stray pass enabled Niccolo Barrilla to feed the striker.
Napoli enjoyed the lion’s share of possession but chances were few and far between, as Piotr Zelensky hit the ball and Roberto Gagliardini hit the only goal on goal before the break with a header.
Herving Lozano hit the ball after controlling a superb pass from Insigne, who forced Handanovic to save the match for the first time with an impromptu tap in the 69th minute.
The match turned in Inter’s favor when it was considered that Ospina had missed Matteo Darmian in the penalty area and Insigne’s protests led to his dismissal.
Lukaku put the penalty kick into the lower left corner but Inter needed Handanovic and a slice of luck to ensure they won’t win late.
Handanovic kept Matteo Politano – on loan at Napoli from Inter – and Giovanni di Lorenzo before Betania found the straight base in the 92nd minute.
what does that mean? Between unconvincing
After leading Inter to victory in both league matches between the two teams last season, Antonio Conte became the second Nerazzurri coach in history to win his first three Serie A matches against Napoli. The only other man to achieve this feat is Alfredo Funi and he did so in 1953.
But Conte’s men have not played as a team capable of launching the serious Scudetto Challenge this season. They only had two shots on target and kept hanging on for the last 15 minutes.
Barrilla has already come of age at the San Siro this season. He was totally brilliant against Napoli despite rolling his ankle in the opening period, providing three key passes – no player on the field did more.
Martinez and Lucaco Mia
Martinez’s wasting narrowly in the first half came from just a touch of two touches in the penalty area that he had passed through in the entire match. Lukaku’s only interventions in the Napoli region came in preparation for the penalty kick and then sending it. More dynamic duo is usually expected.
32/50 – Antonio Conte is the third coach in Inter’s history to win at least 32 of his first 50 Serie A matches with the Nerazzurri, after Aldo Olivieri (34) and Jose Mourinho (34). determination.# Inter Napoli pic.twitter.com/JGrM9F4J6D
OptaPaolo (OptaPaolo) December 16, 2020
Opta Key Facts
Conte is the third coach in Inter’s history to win no less than 32 games from his first 50 matches for the Nerazzurri, after Aldo Olivieri (34) and Jose Mourinho (34).
Inter have kept four clean sheets in a row at home against Napoli in Serie A for the first time since 1980.
Lukaku is one of three players to score more than 10 goals in each of the last nine seasons in the top five European leagues, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Robert Lewandowski.
None of the last six Serie A matches between Inter and Napoli at the San Siro saw more than two goals.
They host Inter Spezia in San Siro on Sunday, when Napoli faces a tough trip to Lazio.