SERIE A MATCH REPORT

Serie A Week 35 - 26 Apr 2014 (19.45 UK)
Inter 0 - 0 Napoli
Stadio Giuseppe Meazza

Inter and Napoli wasted numerous chances, forcing saves and hitting the woodwork, in a 0-0 draw that had Gonzalo Higuain stretchered off.

It was a blast from the past, as Walter Mazzarri faced his former club and Rafa Benitez returned to San Siro for the first time since splitting from Inter in December 2010. Hugo Campagnaro also took on his old teammates in a reshuffled back three, as Walter Samuel and Rolando sat out bans with Juan Jesus, Jonathan and Ricky Alvarez injured. The Partenopei surprisingly dropped Marek Hamsik and started Miguel Angel Britos for the suspended Federico Fernandez. Christian Maggio and Rafael remained long-term absentees.

This Serie A fixture hadn’t ended in a draw since February 1994. It was also Napoli’s last warm-up before the Coppa Italia Final with Fiorentina on May 3.

It was a lively start with Pepe Reina at full stretch to beat away a Hernanes snapshot from distance, then Mateo Kovacic turned between defenders with quick feet for a low strike that Reina turned round the base of the upright.

Napoli also threatened, as Jose Callejon ran on to a Dries Mertens ball over the top and his cushioned volley was wide with only Samir Handanovic to beat.

Rodrigo Palacio pounced on a Jorginho error to drill across the face of goal on the counter, then Callejon was again in acres of space down the right only to roll in for Higuain rather than go for goal, allowing Inter to clear.

Handanovic got down to palm away a Gokhan Inler strike, but there was controversy when Palacio fell under a Britos challenge as he was bursting into the box and the referee flashed a yellow card amid Nerazzurri calls for a straight red. From that incident, Palacio’s free kick was straight at Reina.

Mauro Icardi ran on to a Palacio through ball only to hesitate, allowing Napoli to clear, then Lorenzo Insigne misplaced the pass for Higuain and Palacio’s effort was charged down by Faouzi Ghoulam.

Inler blasted over from distance and the referee considered an Esteban Cambiasso handling offence to be involuntary.

The second half started with a double Napoli chance, as Higuain chested down an Inler ball over the top only to see it charged down by Yuto Nagatomo, then Mertens flashed an effort across the face of goal that needed just a touch to turn it in.

Moments later Nagatomo crossed for a Palacio glancing header that surprised Reina to flash inches past the far post.

A fierce Higuain volley was charged down, then Pipita spun brilliantly with quick feet to leave a defender for dead only to then balloon the finish over the bar.

Marek Hamsik’s low cross surprised both Handanovic and Higuain, who didn’t chase it down in front of an open goal.

At the other end, Nagatomo went on a mazy run to test Reina at the near post, then moments later on the counter Inler shimmied between defenders for a shot that bounced off the base of the upright.

Higuain pulled the trigger as Marco Andreolli bravely flung himself in the way with a sliding tackle. The Napoli striker followed through and suffered a nasty knock, so was stretchered off in evident pain. It was not reassuring just a week ahead of the Coppa Italia Final, though initial reports suggest it was only a heavy bruise.


Inter: Handanovic; Campagnaro, Ranocchia, Andreolli; D’Ambrosio (Zanetti 68), Hernanes (Guarin 74), Cambiasso, Kovacic, Nagatomo; Palacio, Icardi (Kuzmanovic 80)
Napoli: Reina; Henrique, Albiol, Britos, Ghoulam; Inler, Jorginho; Mertens (Hamsik 69), Callejon, Insigne; Higuain (Pandev 86)
Ref: Rizzoli