Napoli and Inter Milan produced one of the games of the season in Serie A, as the home side eventually triumphed 4-2 on Sunday night.
5 goals in 45 minutes. Wow. This Napoli Inter game is incredibly entertaining.— Matteo Bonetti (@TheCalcioGuy) December 15, 2013
The scoring started early on, as Gonzalo Higuain volleyed in first-time from Yuto Nagatomo's misplaced headed clearance, giving Napoli the lead after Inter had started the brighter.
Both teams had half-sights of goal afterwards, but the real action started on 35 minutes when Esteban Cambiasso got the first of four goals in the final 10 second-half minutes. He drilled home after a neat move from the right flank, only for Napoli to go straight up the other end and score through Dries Mertens' fierce strike.
Mertens then saw another shot saved, but Blerim Dzemaili was first to the rebound and tapped home for 3-1, giving Napoli what looked like it would be a commanding half-time lead.
However, Nagatomo popped up at the other end to steer home Fredy Guarin's mishit shot in stoppage time, making it 3-2 at the break.
The second half was an altogether more tight and tense affair, as Napoli were reluctant to hand any space to Inter to find a third, but Ricky Alvarez's red card for a second yellow put paid to any hopes the away side had of a comeback.
Ten minutes before full-time, Jose Callejon tapped in at the far post to seal the win, though there was still time for Goran Pandev to come on on the final minutes and win a penalty with his first touch—and then miss the resulting spot-kick, much to the annoyance of regular taker Insigne.
Taking a penalty away from Insigne (who deserves a goal) is one thing, but to totally faff it up like that is another. Way to go, Pandev.— The Siren's Song (@SirenSongNapoli) December 15, 2013
Key Player Grades:
Fredy Guarin: B+
Inter's most dangerous player by some distance. Worked hard, closed down the Napoli defence and was involved in both goals for his team, but didn't get enough quality support to make a telling difference in the end.
Dries Mertens: B+
Scored one and was involved in another, generally making a nuisance of himself throughout the entire game. A fine hit for his second league goal of the season and could have had more if not for slightly rushing at the vital moment.
|Napoli Player Grades|
|Inter Player Grades|
Napoli are still in third but have closed the gap to AS Roma ahead of them in second. They play Cagliari away next time out, while Inter, still in fifth but now seven points adrift of Napoli, face their great rivals AC Milan in the derby.