Inter 3-1 Napoli: Eto’o, Milito & Lucio Pummel Partenopei
The Nerazzurri crushed the sorry Partenopei.
Inter made it four Serie A wins on the bounce with a 3-1 victory over Napoli at San Siro, with Samuel Eto’o, Diego Milito and Lucio scoring the goals for the Nerazzurri, and Ezequiel Lavezzi replying for the Partenopei.
The Nerazzurri were without midfielder Thiago Motta, who has been ruled out for a month with a muscular problem. Marco Materazzi is also still sidelined due to injury. Wesley Sneijder continued in the trequartista role behind Samuel Eto’o and Diego Milito, while Walter Samuel and Cristian Chivu returned to the starting XI in place of Ivan Cordoba and Davide Santon respectively.
Napoli coach Roberto Donadoni was starting to feel the pressure after a poor start to the season, with rumours that he could face the sack unless results improve immediately.
The visitors had problems in defence as Leandro Rinaudo and Hugo Campagnaro were both injured. Christian Maggio and Juan Zuniga took the wing back roles, while Luca Cigarini and Jesus Datolo were benched as Donadoni stuck with the much-criticised 3-5-2 formation.
It took just two minutes for Inter to take the lead as Morgan De Sanctis could only parry Samuel’s header from a corner, and the ball broke to Eto’o who made no mistake from a yard out.
Incredibly, Inter doubled their lead just two minutes later – but it was a controversial goal. Maicon rampaged through the Napoli midfield, and slid through Milito, who finished clinically. Replays showed, though, that the Argentine was offside when he received the ball.
Napoli tried to react with long shots from Ezequiel Lavezzi and Mariano Bogliacino, but Julio Cesar wasn’t troubled.
On 11 minutes Fabio Quagliarella squandered a fantastic chance to get Napoli back in the game as he headed over from six yards from Maggio’s pinpoint cross.
Maicon blasted just too high from 25 yards before Quagliarella missed another great headed chance, allowing Julio Cesar to tip over.
The game was extremely open, and the chances continued to come in fast and furious. Next up was Eto’o on 20 minutes, who was released clean through on goal but was denied by De Sanctis.
On 32 minutes, Inter closed the game with a third goal. Lucio soared above everyone from a left-sided corner to power a header past De Sanctis.
Perhaps getting a little bit complacent, Inter went to sleep a few minutes later from a Napoli corner, and Lavezzi was left completely unmarked at the far post to sweep home into an open net.
Zuniga then threatened a second Napoli goal, but his fierce drive was beaten away by Julio Cesar. Yet, before the break Dejan Stankovic was inches away from making it four as his daisycutter skimmed the post.
Inter made one change at half time, as Sulley Muntari replaced Sneijder.
Fabiano Santacroce’s delightful chipped pass almost had Lavezzi away, but the Argentine’s touch let him down, and Julio Cesar came to the rescue.
Santacroce soon limped off, with Salvatore Aronica taking his place, while Donadoni went for broke by hurling on German Denis for Maggio and switching to a 4-3-3 formation.
Quagliarella volleyed over, but the tempo in the second half was much slower. De Sanctis saved well from Samuel on 68 minutes after another mix-up in Napoli’s disastrous defence.
Samuel then showed off his defensive skills with a perfect tackle on Quagliarella, as both teams accepted that there was little chance of the result changing.
After Sampdoria’s loss at Fiorentina, Inter move to the top of the table. Although they could be overtaken again if Juventus win at Genoa on Thursday night. Meanwhile, Napoli coach Donadoni faces a nervous wait as speculation increases that he faces the sack.