First defeat for Inter Milan this Serie A season

March 3rd, 2008 - 12:35 pm ICT by admin  

Milan, March 3 (DPA) Serie A leaders Inter Milan suffered their first defeat this season as a gritty Napoli edged them out 1-0 in a pulsating game in Naples. With the win Sunday, Napoli improved their mid-table position and did a big favour to second-placed Roma, who Saturday crushed Parma 4-0 to move within six points of the 61-point title-holders with 12 games left.

The injury-plagued Inter fell behind on three minutes at the brimming San Paolo and ran several risks in the remainder of the game as they failed to organize any telling reaction.

Napoli’s winner was a lob curled from Uruguay’s Marcelo Zalayeta after goalkeeper Julio Cesar only managed a clumsy clearance to block the onrushing Ezequiel Lavezzi.

The hosts did not relent after taking the lead, as the 62,000-strong crowd cheered them on and produced two wide shots with Lavezzi and one with defender Matteo Contini.

Inter were dangerous on their first attack on 19 minutes but David Suazo found goalkeeper Matteo Gianello ready to save his shot from inside the area.

Three minutes later, the hosts’ defender Paolo Cannavaro managed to deflect a shot from the young Mario Balotelli, who played up front next to Suazo for the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Julio Cruz.

Napoli had more mouth-watering chances before the break through a low drive from Marek Hamsik and a nasty header from Cannavaro grabbed by the diving Julio Cesar.

The Brazilian was crucial for Inter on 44 minutes, diving prodigiously to slap away a botched clearance from Marco Materazzi. After the break, coach Roberto Mancini brought on Argentina’s veteran Hernan Crespo for a three-pronged attack, but Julio Cesar had to save Inter again on 53 minutes deflecting a smashing shot from Hamsik.

The custodian’s great form was confirmed on 75 minutes as he flew to his left to deflect a spot kick from Zalayeta after causing the penalty with a foul on Uruguayan Walter Gargano.

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