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Coppa Italia: Inter Milan 0-1 Napoli

A disappointing loss in the Coppa Italia

FC Internazionale v SSC Napoli - Coppa Italia: Semi Final
Fabián Ruiz and Christian Eriksen battle for the ball.
Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Napoli earned a huge 1-0 road win against Inter Milan in Leg 1 of the Coppa Italia Semi Finals at the San Siro. A scoreless first half was followed by a 57th game winner for Napoli via Fabián Ruiz, before the southern side retreated defensively. The second leg is scheduled for March 5th at the San Paolo. First, though, are the starting teams put out by Antonio Conte and Gennaro Gattuso.

Inter Milan’s starting 11 with subs

Napoli’s starting 11 with subs

Inter had more possession in the opening stages, but the match was cagey and totaled only two shots by the 15th minute. As the half wore on Napoli began to control more of the ball, and keep Inter from threatening offensively. Napoli were also unable to break the deadlock, but came closest in the 47th minute. On a Napoli counter attack Piotr Zieliński was played the ball in the left side of the box, one on one with Padelli. Zieliński’s attempt was saved by the Italian keeper, but the rebound struck the hand of de Vrij. It was not worthy of a penalty, however, since no advantage was gained and the Dutchmen did not have time to react.

FC Internazionale v SSC Napoli - Coppa Italia: Semi Final
Padelli makes a save! Really!
Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Overall, the first half was balanced, with neither side able to look dangerous in its final third, in part because of the others solid defensive play. Each team took four shots, while Napoli had a slight edge in possession, with 57%.

Inter started the second half with more urgency in the attack but could not find a way past Napoli’s impregnable defense. Instead, Fabián Ruiz opened the scoring for the visitors in the 57th minute with a beautiful strike. After a nice passing sequence in the final third, and a give and go, Ruiz dribbled the ball past two Inter players just out of the box before sending a curling left footed effort into the top left corner of the goal.

FC Internazionale v SSC Napoli - Coppa Italia: Semi Final
Napoli celebrate scoring the opener.
Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Ruiz became just the second Napoli player to score in the Coppa Italia, along with Insigne. Following the goal, Napoli reverted to a very defensive shape, which prompted Conte to have Lukaku, Lautaro, Sánchez, and Eriksen all on the field at the same time. Unfortunately, it was to no avail, as Napoli held on to win the first leg by a scoreline of 1-0.

The final thirty minutes of the match were rather predictable and more than a bit boring, with Napoli playing safe and Inter lacking penetration. Hopefully this match report will suffice and you didn’t actually watch the game, which was mostly uneventful.

FC Internazionale v SSC Napoli - Coppa Italia: Semi Final
The coaches embrace at the final whistle.
Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

After a thrilling Milan Derby victory, this is quite the let down for Inter. Fortunately this is a two legged series, so Inter remains in the fight, but will need to win in Naples. But against Napoli the attack was off, and despite striking 13 shots, only four were on target, and most were simple stops for Ospina. When a goal was needed, Inter couldn’t put Napoli under enough pressure, and gave up the ball the visiting defense could wilt.

On the other side of the field, the defense did a solid job throughout the match, but of course let up the all important game winner after being displaced by a flowing passing sequence. Inter return to Serie A play this Sunday, and travel to the Stadio Olimpico to face Lazio in a highly anticipated clash between 1st and 3rd in the table.

Meanwhile, Napoli have yet to concede a goal in this edition of the Coppa Italia. The defense was top notch at the San Siro, and allowed Inter no clear opportunities for ninety minutes. Fabián Ruiz took advantage of the lone chance that the Naples team found, and scored a great goal, but the offense did little else. This may be Napoli’s best chance to get into Europe next season, with the team being in 10th in Serie A. Napoli travel to Cagliari and the Sardegna on Sunday.

And yes, the less action a game has, the quicker the article is gonna come out.