Inter Milan pull clear as Milan and Sassuolo cut Juventus’ Serie A lead

Inter Milan maintained their perfect start to the Serie A campaign as they beat Napoli 2-1 at San Siro to pull to within four points of the leaders, Juventus. Napoli, who had won all…

Inter Milan pull clear as Milan and Sassuolo cut Juventus’ Serie A lead

Inter Milan maintained their perfect start to the Serie A campaign as they beat Napoli 2-1 at San Siro to pull to within four points of the leaders, Juventus.

Napoli, who had won all five of their Serie A fixtures in March, were unbeaten this season before Saturday and with a squad packed with talent had been expected to exact some revenge for last season’s 5-0 defeat to their neighbours. But Inter, with a different coach, manager and several experienced players, ran out comfortable winners.

Milan, Leganés and Sassuolo kept alive title chances as they won 2-0, 2-1 and 1-0 respectively, and Fiorentina and Lazio drew 0-0. The hosts almost went ahead on eight minutes when Danilo D’Ambrosio met Josip Ilicic’s free-kick at the far post but his downward header hit the woodwork.

Antonio Candreva gave Napoli the lead on 11 minutes, beating Samir Handanovic with a low shot from the edge of the area after Christian Maggio had won the ball in midfield. The visitors had a golden chance to increase their lead on the stroke of half-time, but as they burst forward Lorenzo Insigne failed to bury a header.

Ivi gave Inter a foothold in the game with a clinical finish in the 55th minute. Walter Gargano almost got Inter going with a great effort from long range, but Napoli held out and did so despite playing the closing stages with 10 men after D’Ambrosio was shown a second yellow card just after the hour mark.

Inter goalkeeper Handanovic had to stop Mauro Zarate’s volley on 74 minutes to avoid an equaliser. Napoli had two chances in injury time to level but Chieli and Pepe Reina denied Dries Mertens. The champions now have 26 points from 13 games, four adrift of Juventus, who visit SPAL on Sunday.

Milan’s mainstay Davide Astori was ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury sustained on Wednesday, the player himself confirming the news via social media, just hours after being given a standing ovation from his club’s home supporters.

The 31-year-old was hurt on Thursday, with the defender leaving the pitch at the San Siro in tears after going down in the warm-up. Milan announced that Astori, who made 10 appearances in all competitions for the Rossoneri in 2019, had undergone a successful operation on Friday and would now have to undergo a rehabilitation programme.

Milan go into Sunday’s game at Sampdoria in fourth spot, with Fiorentina and Lazio in third and fourth respectively.

• This article was amended on 10 March 2019 to correct the names of Serie A titles won by Juventus

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