SERIE A MATCH REPORT

Serie A Week 9 - 21 Oct 2017 (19.45 UK)
Napoli 0 - 0 Inter
Stadio San Paolo

Napoli saw their perfect record ended, but remain two points clear at the top of the table after Inter snatched a 0-0 draw at the San Paolo.

There were only two points separating the leaders (who had a perfect record after eight rounds and won 13 Serie A games on the trot) from second-placed Nerazzurri. Lorenzo Insigne shook off a thigh injury sustained on Tuesday against Manchester City in the Champions League to start, while Jorginho and Allan were rested midweek. The Nerazzurri had no European commitments, but missed Marcelo Brozovic and used the same XI that beat Milan 3-2 with a Mauro Icardi hat-trick.

Inter’s last victory at the San Paolo in Serie A was 20 years ago, a 2-0 result in October 1997, followed by four draws and eight defeats.

As expected, the hosts kept a lot of possession and Marek Hamsik drilled wide from the edge of the box, but Inter were dangerous on the counter, Roberto Gagliardini’s effort deflected off target.

Samir Handanovic performed a stunning double save, denying Jose Callejon’s angled drive and the Dries Mertens follow-up from point-blank range.

Ivan Perisic’s towering header flew over the bar, but Napoli started to take control and Insigne snuck up behind Danilo D’Ambrosio to nod Hamsik’s clever ball over the top, forcing Handanovic into a tricky save.

Kalidou Koulibaly harassed Milan Skriniar into losing possession, but with no support, the centre-back scuffed his shot over from a tight angle.

Mauro Icardi tested Pepe Reina at the near post on 40 minutes for the first genuine shot on target. Moments later, the offside trap failed and Reina palmed a Borja Valero half-volley over the bar from eight yards.

Inter should’ve taken the lead two minutes after the restart, as Matias Vecino surged forward and managed to flick the ball past on-rushing Reina from the by-line, but Raul Albiol got back for an acrobatic goal-line clearance.

At the other end, Callejon knocked down a Jorginho pass for Hamsik to drill just wide of the near post and Insigne curled a couple of trademark right-foot curlers very close to the far top corner.

Joao Mario’s angled drive flashed just wide and Elseid Hysaj did well to intercept Candreva’s pull-back for Perisic, but on 84 minutes Handanovic was almost propelled backwards by the ferocity of Piotr Zielinski’s strike.

The Slovenian goalkeeper was again decisive at the 90th minute, as Mertens was ready to flick the volley from 10 yards, Miranda got there first and almost scored an own goal, but Handanovic flew to palm it away with one hand.

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Napoli: Reina; Hysaj, Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Allan (Rog 75), Jorginho, Hamsik (Zielinski 71); Callejon, Mertens, Insigne (Ounas 80)
Inter: Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, Skriniar, Miranda, Nagatomo; Vecino, Gagliardini; Candreva (Cancelo 82), Borja Valero (Joao Mario 71), Perisic; Icardi (Eder 86)
Ref: Banti