Jose Callejon made the most of a Yuto Nagatomo howler, as Napoli conquered San Siro to send Inter further into crisis and move within a point of Roma.
The Nerazzurri had spent the week in a training retreat after two points from five rounds, including a 5-4 defeat to Fiorentina. Ivan Perisic, Cristian Ansaldi and Joao Miranda were not fully fit, so Eder and Jeison Murillo started, with Marcelo Brozovic preferred to Geoffrey Kondogbia in midfield. The Partenopei were fresh from a 2-2 draw at Sassuolo, but as Roma lost 3-1 to Lazio earlier, a win would put them one point adrift of second place.
They swept Inter aside 3-0 at the Stadio San Paolo in December, but won just one of their last 13 Serie A trips to the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, losing 10.
From the start, it was evident that Napoli were keeping possession and the hosts focused on the counter-attack. Marek Hamsik’s angled drive flashed just wide, while Mauro Icardi’s diving header from a corner struck the side-netting and a Lorenzo Insigne lob was off target.
Dries Mertens came sliding in, just a fraction of a second too late to connect with the Jose Callejon cross-shot, then was denied by Samir Handanovic tearing out to smother at his feet after skipping past Gary Medel.
Pepe Reina fumbled an Antonio Candreva snapshot, but Mertens had a fantastic chance on 34 minutes. He sprung the offside trap on Zielinski’s through ball and dinked it over Handanovic from the tightest of angles, clipping the far post.
Insigne juggled the ball over defenders on a Hamsik volleyed assist only to then scuff the finish. For all their beautiful football, Napoli took a deserved lead thanks to some disastrous defending.
A loose ball bobbled around to the back post, where Yuto Nagatomo just had to clear, but he shinned it back over his own head and Callejon fired in from close range.
After the restart, Insigne flashed a first-time curler just past the far post from outside the area, while Kalidou Koulibaly made a decisive tackle on Eder.
Perisic was able to play the last half-hour and Handanovic fingertipped an Insigne shot past the near stick, Candreva scuffing a volley wide from Icardi’s assist.
Handanovic got down to parry Marko Rog’s low strike after another Nagatomo error, then the goalkeeper showed cat-like reflexes on an Insigne back-heel flick.
Perisic’s volley was straight at Reina and Murillo went off with cramp and there were timid penalty appeals, as Aradkiusz Milik’s free kick was charged down by Icardi’s up-stretched arm in the wall.
See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with Eurotips.co.uk