Saturday, 1 October 2011

Napoli romp ends Ranieri's short Inter honeymoon

Napoli moved top of the Serie with a controversial yet stunning 3-0 victory over Inter Milan in the San Siro.

A Marek Hamsik inspired Napoli were undoubtedly fortunate to take a lead in at half time, as Hugo Campagnaro smashed home after Hamsik's dubious penalty was saved. The controversial moment of the game occured after Joel Obi 's foul on Christian Maggio, which was a good yard outside the area, saw the Nigerian collect his marching orders for a second yellow card offence.

The second half however was a difference story as Napoli outclassed Inter's ten men, and further goals from Maggio and man of the match Hamsik meant Claudio Ranieri's honeymoon spell with Inter had well and truely ended.

Both sides came into the match on the back of their first Champions League victory of the season, however both inconsistent in the League. Another theme the two had in common was the absence of their key player as Inter were without Wesley Sneijder and Napoli missing their talismanic striker Edison Cavani.

Diego Forlan came the closest early on as Inter Milan dominated the early proceedings. The Uruguayans' shot went marginally wide of Morgan De Santics post, with the keeper beaten.

The returning Maicon was a threat down the right hand side, with the pace of the full-back on occasions ensuring the Brazilian got in behind the Napoli back three, however his composure when in the danger zone was poor and twice failed to find his team mate when well placed.

Inter continued to dictate the play and Giampaolo Pazzini had a goal disallowed for offside. The Italian striker reacted quickest to a De Santics parry from an Estaban Cambiasso drive, however the former Fiorentina man was, marginally offside.

The games turning point however happened on 41 minutes when Obi was adjudged to have fouled Maggio inside the box. The decision was highly controversial as the foul was clearly committed outside the penalty area. To rub salt into the Inter Milan wound, the unfortunate Nigerian was also shown a second yellow card for the incident.

Hamsik saw his spot kick saved by Julio Cesar, however the rebound fell nicely for Campagnaro who smashed past the Brazilian keeper.

A number of Inter players' frustrations boiled over as they surrounded the referee minutes after the decision and Cristian Zanetti and Julio Cesar picked up yellow cards for dissent. Cesar in particular crossed a line, as he had to consistently be held back by team mates and his actions where fortunate not to result in a second Inter red card.

Inter replaced the injured Cristian Chivu with Yuto Nagatoma at half time, and the Japanese full-back was at fault for an out of the blue Napoli second. Inter despite being down to ten men came out of the traps the quickest, however a long ball caused confusion between the duo as they both left the ball for each other and Maggio got in between the duo to loft the ball brilliantly over Cesar's head.

The goal ensured Inter Milan had conceded the most goals in Serie A this season.

With Napoli now in complete control, Zuniga incredibly missed an open goal from inside the 6 yard box to kill off the 2010 Serie A Champions. A one two between Zuniga and Hamsik saw the later released into the Inter box, the Slovakian unselfishly squared it for Zuniga who somehow contrived the blaze over with the goal gapping.

Napoli were demonstrating perfectly how to keep at bay ten men, and after a spell of five unchallenged minutes of possession, Ezequiel Lavezzi expertly thread the ball through for Hamsik who smashed by the helpless Cesar for an incredible third.

The full time whistle meant Napoli have beaten both Milan sides already this season, scoring three on both occasions.

The result enhances the belief Napoli have a genuine chance of winning the Scudetto as well as confirming Inter's place in the bottom half of the table.

Napoli stun 10-man Inter - FOOTBALL - Serie A

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