Simone Inzaghi explains how he neutralised Napoli’s midfield in a 3-2 victory, as Inter intend to keep improving in both Serie A and the Champions League.
This result means both Milan and Napoli have lost their unbeaten records this weekend, so they remain joint leaders, but the gap is cut to just four points by the title holders.
The Nerazzurri had gone behind to a Piotr Zielinski strike, only to turn it around before half-time through Hakan Calhanoglu’s penalty and an Ivan Perisic glancing header.
Serie A | Inter 3-2 Napoli: Scudetto race blown wide open
Lautaro Martinez put them 3-1 up, only for Dries Mertens to get the visitors back into it. Only Samir Handanovic’s save on Mario Rui and a terrible Mertens miss in stoppages prevented it ending 3-3.
“It was a key game for the season, although the most important one will be in three days’ time,” Inzaghi told DAZN, referring to the Champions League showdown with Shakhtar Donetsk.
“We beat a very strong Napoli side and we did it deservedly too. It’s always going to be a struggle against Napoli, especially as they have on average the highest possession statistics in Serie A this season with 60 per cent.
“I had players out of action, many who returned late after long journeys from half-way across the world. Edin Dzeko was not at his best either and Correa felt a twinge, otherwise I wouldn’t have substituted him.”
After taking a 3-1 lead, Inter still almost fumbled it in stoppages, but finally got their first win against one of the top clubs.
“We had been a whisker away from winning several of the other head-to-head clashes, so a little fear was inevitable towards the end during eight minutes of stoppages.”
Calhanoglu converted another penalty after the one in the Milan derby, so is he the first choice spot-kick taker ahead of Lautaro Martinez now?
“We had tests in training, Perisic, Calhanoglu and Lautaro took three penalties each and scored all three, so I said just decide between yourselves! Hakan is in great shape at the moment and I wouldn’t have taken him off if he wasn’t on a yellow card today.”
Nicolò Barella was causing problems for Fabian Ruiz in midfield, tactically neutralising Napoli in the first half.
“He did really well, as usually Napoli build with three, but they stuck more with their full-backs staying in place and we had to make some adjustments. Barella and Marcelo Brozovic had a great game.
“I said yesterday that I was not remotely worried, as Lautaro Martinez has been playing well and scored a great goal today. I was a striker, so I know there are moments when the ball doesn’t want to go in, but he stayed calm and focused. We must continue like this.”
Inter have now closed the gap on both Milan and Napoli to just four points, are they ready to defend their Scudetto?
“We must continue like this. We’ve got to focus on the Champions League next, because it’s been too many years that Inter haven’t got past the group phase and we have a big opportunity to achieve it.”