Napoli vs Inter 0-3: Nerazzurri Force Way to Consolidate Serie A Lead

Inter forced their way at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium on Sunday night as they put three unanswered goals past Napoli to consolidate their lead at the top of the Serie A table. The Nerazzurri were merciless and cynical as a Scudetto candidate should be as they punished Napoli even more than they deserved.  

Hakan Calhanoglu, Nicoló Barella, and Marcus Thuram made it to the scoresheet in what was perhaps Inter’s most impressive performance this season along with their 5-1 triumph in the Derby della Madonnina.

For Napoli, it was yet another loss on their home turf this season and a brutal wake-up call for Walter Mazzarri after his winning debut one week ago. The Tuscan gaffer’s major problem seems to be at the back as the Azzurri have conceded eight goals in three games since his arrival.  

Indeed, with the two designated left backs both unavailable due to injuries, it was up to center back Natan to fill the gap on the left. Victor Osimhen regained his spot as a starter in the middle of the front line, but the Nigerian was still far from his best shape.

For Inter, Simone Inzaghi confirmed the same lineup as one week ago after rotating many of his starters in the mid-week Champions League endeavor. The Nerazzurri were definitely fresher and that would widen the gap between the two sides towards the end of the game.

Still, Napoli seemed off to a good start. After just 129 seconds, Elijf Elmas conjured a spectacular shot from outside the box, calling Yann Sommer to action right away. The Swiss goalie’s reaction was phenomenal and confirmed once again how Sommer is unexpectedly turning into one of Inter’s added weapons this term.

On 18 minutes, Stefan De Vrij had to raise a white flag as he picked up an injury to his abductor and had to make room for Carlos Augusto. That could have been an advantage for the Partenopei, who indeed were the better team for at least 25 minutes. But luck was not Mazzarri’s band’s side as Matteo Politano hit the crossbar with a terrific screamer that could have changed the fate of the game.

Instead, it was another single episode to steer the match in a different direction. Inter had not been standing watching until then, as they had already found the net early on with Thuram only to see their winning effort disallowed on grounds of offside. On 43 minutes, Calhanoglu broke the balance with a clinical right foot rocket. The Turk whipped the ball past Alex Meret after being served by Barella, who in turn received the ball by Denzel Dumfries.  

Napoli did react but found once again Sommer on their way. The Inter shot-stopper finger-tipped away an angled Khvicha Kvaratskhelia conclusion on 57 minutes. Dumfries could thus thank his goalkeeper as people will probably end up forgetting how easily he was dribbled by Kvaratskhelia in the process.

Right after the one-hour mark, Inter hit again. The Nerazzurri’s second goal was powered by Lautaro Martinez, who did not score tonight but was no less brilliant than usual. El Toro’s pass from the left was grabbed by Barella in the middle of the box. The pocket-sized midfielder then proceeded to dribble past Leo Ostigaard and Natan like a skier between some slalom poles to deposit the ball home, making it 2-0.

Martinez could soon have made it three for Inter but failed to increase his goal tally for once. However, it was just a matter of a few minutes before the visitors would round up their scoring.

The final stamp on the proceedings was put by Thuram on 85 minutes. The Frenchman only had to push the ball into the back of the net from a Juan Cuadrado cutting pass, as the Napoli back line appeared totally caught by surprise.

Napoli ended the game with an ultra-offensive setup as Giacomo Raspadori, Piotr Zielinski and Jesper Lindstrom joined Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia upfront, but the Partenopei didn’t manage to score at least one to make their defeat less humbling.

As they are now 11 points away from the top of the table, it is safe to say that Napoli have virtually vacated the Serie A throne by now. The message from the Diego Armando Maradona, on the other hand, was loud and clear. There is one main new candidate to the Italian title, and the colors they wear are black and blue.  



December 3, 2023 – Serie A 2022-2023 Round 14

SCORERS: 44′ Calhanoglu, 62′ Barella, 85′ Thuram

NAPOLI (4-3-3):

Meret; Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Ostigard, Natan (87′ Zerbin); Anguissa, Lobotka (75′ Zielinski), Elmas (75′ Lindstrom); Politano (68′ Raspadori), Osimhen, Kvaratskhelia (Idasiak, Gollini, Demme, Juan Jesus, Simeone, Cajuste, Gaetano) Coach: Mazzarri

INTER (3-5-2): Sommer; Darmian (86′ Bisseck), De Vrij (18′ Carlos Augusto), Acerbi; Dumfries (77′ Cuadrado), Barella, Calhanoglu, Mkhitaryan (77′ Frattesi), Dimarco; Thuram (86′ Arnautovic), Lautaro Martinez (Di Gennaro, Audero, Sensi, Klaassen, Asllani, Agoumé, Stabile, Sanchez) Coach: S. Inzaghi

REFEREE: Mr. Massa from Imperia
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Elmas, Anguissa (N); Mkhitaryan, Darmian, Thuram (I); Added Time: 1st Half 2′, 2nd Half 3′