NAPLES – At the end of a very intense match in which both teams gave their all and played at their best, Inter stopped Napoli’s streak after they had won the previous eight to bring home an important point on matchday nine of Serie A TIM. 0-0 was the final result at the San Paolo.
The first side to go onto the front foot was Napoli with a powerful Hamsik effort in the fifth minute missing the target. The Nerazzurri responded in the eleventh minute with a Gagliardini strike from the edge of the box that was blocked and D’Ambrosio looked to pick out the corner moments later but he couldn’t keep the effort on target. After 20 minutes, following an Allan effort, Handanovic responded to the first shot from Callejon before getting up to save from Mertens at point-blank range on the rebound. Inter looked to attack again in the 27th minute as Perisic headed over from Candreva’s cross. Napoli were very dangerous once more in the 35th minute as Hamsik picked out Insigne with his left foot but he headed straight at Handanovic who kept him out in stages. The Partenopei looked to up the tempo. Koulibaly won the ball from Skriniar in the 38th minute but missed the target with his shot. After a tough moment of hanging on, Inter finished the stronger. Reina first had to respond to an effort from Icardi before making a good stop from Borja Valero in the 42nd minute which tipped out for a corner. There was no stoppage time and the teams went into the break with the scores goalless.
Neither side made any changes at the break, with the first big chance of the second half falling to the Nerazzurri in the 48th minute. Vecino strode up high into the opposing half with the ball at his feet, before then skipping past Reina and having his cross-come-shot cleared off the line by Albiol. With the match still being played at an incredibly intensity, Mertens then forced D’Ambrosio into a crucial 55th minute interception after initially beating Skriniar. Soon followed was a solid effort from Hamsik, who fired his strike just wide of the post. Ten minutes later Insigne threatened from long-range, although his wayward shot sailed high over the crossbar. This was then exactly the case once again soon after, with the Azzurri No. 24 failing to find the target for the second time in quick succession. In response to the game’s dynamics, Spalletti sent on Joao Mario for Borja Valero in the 77th minute, with the Portuguese international instantly trying his luck from just outside the box. With the game reaching its latter stages, Handanovic stepped up to the plate once again for the away side, as he initially kept out a majestic 84th minute volley from Zielinksi, before then crucially halting a close-range effort from Mertens just six minutes later.
The final whistle soon arrived and so concluded a hard-fought 0-0 draw. This result leaves Spalletti’s side on 23 points in the Serie A league standings, still sitting just two points behind leaders Napoli. The Nerazzurri will now prepare to take on Marco Giampaolo’s Sampdoria side on Tuesday evening at the San Siro.
NAPOLI: 25 Reina; 23 Hysaj, 26 Koulibaly, 33 Albiol, 31 Ghoulam; 5 Allan (75' 30 Rog), 8 Jorginho, 17 Hamsik (72' 20 Zielinski); 7 Callejon, 14 Mertens, 24 Insigne (80' 37 Ounas)
Substitutions: 1 Rafael, 22 Sepe, 6 Mario Rui, 11 Maggio, 15 Giaccherini, 19 Maksimovic, 21 Chiriches, 42 Diawara
Coach: Maurizio Sarri
INTER: 1 Handanovic; 33 D'Ambrosio, 37 Skriniar, 25 Miranda, 55 Nagatomo; 5 Gagliardini, 11 Vecino; 87 Candreva (83' 7 Cancelo), 20 B. Valero (71' 10 Joao Mario), 44 Perisic; 9 Icardi (87' 23 Eder)
Substitutions: 27 Padelli, 46 Berni, 13 Ranocchia, 17 Karamoh, 21 Santon, 29 Dalbert, 99 Pinamonti
Coach: Luciano Spalletti
Bookings: Miranda (I), Koulibaly (N)
Added time: 0' + 3'
Assistants: Meli e Manganelli
Fourth Official: Irrati
VAR Operators: Ronchi, Pinzani