Antonio Conte was proud of Inter for grinding out an “ugly” 1-0 victory over Napoli in Serie A at San Siro on Wednesday.
Roberto Gagliardini’s weak header was the only effort on target during the first half of a dour league encounter, with Inter only taking the lead when Romelu Lukaku converted a 73rd-minute penalty after David Ospina fouled Matteo Darmian.
That was the only other shot on target the Nerazzurri mustered across the entire game midweek, while Napoli – who had captain Lorenzo Insigne sent off for dissent after referee Davide Massa pointed to the spot – did not draw a save from Samir Handanovic until the 69th minute.
“The match was very tactical, the teams played with a lot of respect and it wasn’t a great match, but it is an important victory against a rival. They are points that are worth twice as much,” head coach Conte told Sky Sport Italia.
“These are games that are difficult because you can win them but also lose them. Napoli are an excellent team with great organisation.
“[Gennaro] Gattuso is right when he says that we coaches tactically made it ugly. We had already faced each other several times and we worked to make each other’s attacks sterile.
“These are games that you have to win and when you do you put it in your pocket and you are happy.”
— Matteo Darmian (@DarmianOfficial) December 16, 2020
Inter goalkeeper Handanovic did well to keep out Matteo Politano and Giovanni Di Lorenzo as 10-man Napoli pushed for an equaliser in the final 10 minutes.
Napoli’s Andrea Petagna rattled the post in stoppage time as the visitors came up short in their attempt to secure a share of the spoils in Milan.
Conte admitted Inter had not had to cling on for the three points but was pleased they managed to do so, making them the first team to keep four successive home clean sheets against Napoli since Catania put together a run of six from 1961 to 2008.
“The team felt the importance and weight that these games carry [in the closing stages],” said Conte.
“Bringing these matches home is important for mental growth. We must learn to suffer and cope with these situations.
“We would prefer to suffer less, but winning against such strong teams is a good sign.”
Inter are second and within a point of city rivals Milan, who have drawn back-to-back matches.
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