Monday, May 17, 2021

Napoli 1-1 Inter: Eriksen on target for Serie A leaders after Handanovic own goal

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 18 Apr 2021

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Inter’s 11-game winning streak in Serie A came to an end as Samir Handanovic’s first-half own goal helped Napoli seal a 1-1 draw on Sunday.

Antonio Conte’s side are still red-hot favourites to win a first league title since the 2009-10 season, though the gap to neighbours Milan is down to nine points with seven games remaining after their city rivals overcame Genoa earlier on Sunday.

Inter hit the woodwork twice in the first half, yet they went in at the interval behind after Handanovic had fumbled a cross into his own net.

Christian Eriksen gave Inter hope of securing consecutive away league wins over Napoli for the first time since 1997, but Gennaro Gattuso’s hosts held firm to move within two points of fourth-placed Juventus.

After a tepid start, Inter went agonisingly close to going ahead shortly before the half-hour mark when Romelu Lukaku diverted Marcelo Brozovic’s strike onto the crossbar from six yards.

Napoli then broke the deadlock nine minutes before the interval after some slapstick goalkeeping from Handanovic.

Lorenzo Insigne’s cross should have been comfortably dealt with by the Inter keeper, yet the ball conspired to end up in the back of the net after he collided with Stefan de Vrij when trying to claim it.

Lukaku hit the woodwork again before the interval, steering Eriksen’s free-kick onto Alex Meret’s right-hand post, as Inter finished the first half strongly.

Inter deservedly pulled level 10 minutes into the second half when Eriksen rifled in just his second Serie A goal for the club from 20 yards.

Matteo Politano struck the crossbar with a thunderous strike late on, while Inter had a nervous wait when referee Daniele Doveri reviewed a De Vrij tackle in the penalty area on the pitchside monitor, the official ultimately deciding the Dutchman had legally won the ball.

 

What does it mean? Nerazzurri still in pole position

Inter’s lead over Milan was cut by two points this weekend, but Conte and his players remain firm favourites to get their hands on the Serie A trophy.

While they hit the woodwork twice at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, Inter will probably be happy to head back to the capital with a point given Napoli had more shots (12 to 10) and enjoyed 56.6 per cent of the possession.

Eriksen finds his range

Eriksen’s Inter career looked to be over after he was told he was free to leave in the mid-season transfer window, but the Denmark international has fought his way back into Conte’s plans. His strike to seal a point was his 24th from outside the area in the top five European leagues since he joined Tottenham in 2013-14, with only Lionel Messi (59) scoring more in that period.

Handanovic almost costs Inter

Handanovic made an almighty mess of what should have been a routine take from Insigne’s cross. Since he joined Inter ahead of the 2012-13 season, no goalkeeper in the top five European leagues has scored more own goals (four, level with Lyon’s Anthony Lopes).

Key Opta facts

– Inter have earned the most points (75) in the top-five European leagues this season, overtaking Manchester City (74).
– Five different sides have earned 60+ Serie A points after the opening 31 games for the first time in the Serie A history (since the introduction of three points for a win in 1929-30).
– Eriksen has scored two of his six goals for Inter in all competitions against Napoli, both in away fixtures.
– Prior to this game, the last own goal scored by Inter against Napoli in Serie A was back in May 1997 (Paul Ince).
– Napoli have fired less than two shots on target in a single Serie A match for their first time since April 2018 (against Fiorentina).

What’s next?

Inter are in Serie A action again on Wednesday when they travel to Spezia, while Napoli host Lazio in the Italian top-flight a day later.

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