Napoli 3-0 Inter: Hamsik and Insigne on target as Pioli's men flounder

The hosts scored twice in the opening six minutes as they eased to a win that keeps them in touch with the Champions League chasing sides

Stefano Pioli suffered his first Serie A defeat as Inter coach as they were put to the sword in a 3-0 loss at Napoli on Friday.

Tasked with overseeing a recovery following the end of Frank de Boer’s brief and underwhelming stint at San Siro, former Lazio boss Pioli picked up his first victory in Inter’s 4-2 triumph over Fiorentina on Monday.

But he and Inter were emphatically brought back down to earth at the Stadio San Paolo, as two goals in the opening five minutes effectively put the game beyond their reach.

Piotr Zielinski opened the scoring inside two minutes and then set up Napoli captain Marek Hamsik to double the hosts’ advantage.

Napoli had been held to a 1-1 draw by Sassuolo last time out, but there was never any danger of an Inter comeback and Lorenzo Insigne’s 51st-minute volley made sure of the points.

Samir Handanovic performed heroics in the Inter goal to limit Napoli’s margin of victory as Maurizio Sarri’s men moved up to fifth in the table, just a point behind second-placed Roma.

The deadlock was broken after 107 seconds when Jose Callejon nodded Hamsik’s lofted ball across the box back to Zielinksi, whose first-time shot found the bottom-left corner.

Zielinksi then turned creator as Napoli quickly doubled their lead, Hamsik beating Handanovic at the near post with a precise low after being brilliantly played in by the Pole. 

Napoli continued to dominate and pressed to try to put the game to bed early, Manolo Gabbiadini heading narrowly wide of the right-hand post from Insigne’s left-wing cross.

Inter did finally manage to craft an opportunity and it unsurprisingly came through Mauro Icardi, who fired high and wide on the turn.

Possession was squandered by Napoli immediately from the resulting goal-kick, but Pepe Reina raced off his line to prevent Icardi from pulling one back for Inter.

Eder replaced Ever Banega – who had been struggling with an injury – for Inter at the start of the second half.

But that change did little to alter to Inter’s fortunes as Napoli made it 3-0 six minutes after the restart.

Faouzi Ghoulam saw a curling effort turned over by Handanovic, yet hewas helpless as Insigne capitalised on the Inter goalkeeper’s failure to successfully clear Ghoulam’s inswinging coner by looping a snapshot volley into the bottom-right corner

Handanovic was called on again to Hamsik from close range after the Slovakian played a neat one-two with Insigne, and he continued to be the only thing stopping from the game from developing into a rout, thwarting Gabbiadini at the near post.

Not to outdone, Napoli keeper Reina produced a fine fingertip save to stop Antonio Candreva giving Inter a glimmer of hope.

Napoli evidently took their foot off the gas in the closing stages, but there is no time to relax for Pioli, who has plenty to think about with Inter remaining eight points adrift of the Champions League places.

Pioli laments Inter's 'step backwards'

After defeating Fiorentina last time out, the Nerazzurri coach was angered to see his side take a step back against Napoli as they were easily defeated

Stefano Pioli lamented Inter’s slow start as they suffered a 3-0 Serie A loss at Napoli on Friday.

Having produced an excellent display to defeat Fiorentina last time out, Inter were slow out of the blocks at Stadio San Paolo, falling 2-0 down inside six minutes as Piotr Zielinski and Marek Hamsik scored.

Quick-starting Napoli thump Inter

They never looked likely to get back into the match and now sit seven points behind their fifth-placed hosts, leaving Pioli to rue a poor showing that was compounded by Lorenzo Insigne’s second-half goal.

“It is a step backwards compared to recent matches, as above all the initial approach made all the difference against a quality side like Napoli,” he told Mediaset Premium.
“Conceding two goals at the San Paolo so early means it is difficult to get back into the game. We did have opportunities to score, but we failed to convert them.

“We need more care and determination in defence, so that will take time. Napoli have quality players and moved the ball well. I think Jose Callejon was perhaps offside on the first goal, but even then we should’ve covered Piotr Zielinski’s run better.

“We are working on the tactical, physical and psychological levels. We lost our balance and took the wrong approach. I also saw positioning errors on the goals we conceded.”

Inter return to Europa League action against Sparta Prague on Thursday, before welcoming Genoa to San Siro next weekend in the league.

'Europe too cold for Gabigol – it would be a dream to have him back at Santos'

The president of the Brazilian side admits he has not spoken to the 20-year-old attacker, but would be glad to see him back at his former stomping ground on loan

Santos president Modesto Roma Junior says it would be “a dream” to welcome Gabriel Barbosa back to the Brazilian club, but feels his struggles at Inter may be down to bad weather.

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The 20-year-old attacker attracted a great deal of interest from some of Europe’s top sides before he joined Inter in the last transfer window for around €30 million, with Barcelona even claiming a breach of contract when he was sold without their knowledge.

Despite the hype, the winger and forward has been unable to secure a place in the Inter first-team, having made just one appearance in all competitions – a 15-minute cameo in a 1-1 draw with Bologna in September.

Gabriel, nicknamed Gabigol, has been linked to a loan move away from San Siro ahead of the January transfer window in order to gain first-team football, and Santos are seen as one potential destination.
And the Santos chief admits he would be delighted to welcome the promising player back to Brazil, but feels the cold weather in Italy could be affecting his adaptation to his new surroundings.

“For me it remains a dream and sometimes dreams come true,” he told Bradesco Esportes FM. “Now he plays with Inter but if they wish to grant him a loan move, I would be very happy to welcome him back.

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“I haven’t spoken to him but now it’s cold in Europe and that is one thing that I know he doesn’t like.”

Gabigol remains tied to Inter until 2021.

Pioli: Messi is a dangerous dream for Inter

The club’s new coach insists he has no time to think about a move for the Argentina ace and says he is focusing solely on Friday’s clash with Napoli

Stefano Pioli is not entertaining suggestions that Inter could launch an audacious bid for Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.
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Messi has always maintained he will return to Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina when his trophy-laden career with La Liga giants Barca eventually comes to an end.

However, there have been murmurings in some quarters that his future at Camp Nou is unclear due to a reported impasse in contract negotiations.

Marco Tronchetti Provera, the chairman of Inter’s chief sponsor Pirelli, stated earlier this week that the Nerazzurri are “dreaming” of signing Messi.
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But head coach Pioli was staying firmly in the realms of reality when asked about the topic at a pre-match news conference ahead of Friday’s trip to Napoli.

“It’s good to dream but it can also be dangerous,” he said.

“I have no need or time to think about anything outside of our club.

#Pioli : ” #Messi ? It’s good to dream but it can also be dangerous. We need to stay focused on our work” #NapoliInter
— F.C. Internazionale (@Inter_en) December 1, 2016

“We just need to stay focused on our work and on our upcoming games. We need to concentrate on our day-to-day work.”

Pioli, who replaced Frank de Boer in the Inter hotseat last month, says plans will start to form ahead of the January transfer window soon, though.

“My thoughts on the January transfer window aren’t the be all and end all,” he added.

“We’ll have more meetings in the coming weeks to prepare ourselves for the window.”
Inter have shown signs of improvement in recent weeks and defeated Fiorentina 4-2 at San Siro on Monday.

Napoli are one place and four points above Inter in seventh and Pioli called on his side to maintain their momentum at Stadio San Paolo.
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“We need more results to make sure our confidence keeps growing,” he said. “Right now, we need to be focused on the match.

“It’s an important game for both sides, but it’s not last-chance saloon. I don’t think Napoli are in trouble, they’re a great side and they play good football.

“We know what to expect but we’re prepared well and we’ll go out there to win.”

Inter 4-2 Fiorentina: Nerazzurri hold on for victory after blistering start

Mauro Icardi smashed two goals for the hosts to continue his fine season, as they halted a run of four straight defeats to mark Stefano Pioli’s first win

Inter moved above Fiorentina in the Serie A table after captain Mauro Icardi inspired their thrilling 4-2 victory at San Siro on Monday.

The striker scored two and set up another as the home side ended a run of four consecutive defeats against the Viola and sealed a first win for new head coach Stefano Pioli.

Inter took control of the match in a devastating opening 20 minutes, in which Marcelo Brozovic, Antonio Candreva and Icardi all got on the scoresheet to punish a torrid display from the visiting defence.

Nikola Kalinic gave Fiorentina a chance of a comeback with a well-taken goal before half-time, but a contentious red card for Gonzalo Rodriguez promptly put paid to Paulo Sousa’s lingering hopes of a much-needed result.

Icardi came close to a second soon after the break but Inter’s control on the match began to slip away, especially after Josip Ilicic’s shot took an awkward bounce and flew past Samir Handanovic to make it 3-2.

There was to be no repeat of Thursday’s Europa League collapse against Hapoel Be’er Sheva, however, as Icardi’s late tap-in ensured that Inter climb above Fiorentina – having played a game more – and into the top eight.

Inter’s flying start saw them take the lead inside three minutes. Icardi’s low cross was diverted into the path of Brozovic, and the Croatia midfielder placed the ball into the roof of the net from just inside the area.

Candreva was denied a quick-fire second by a good block from Rodriguez, but the Italy winger had better luck with only nine minutes on the clock as Fiorentina’s implosion continued.

Ciprian Tatarusanu palmed Ivan Perisic’s cross-cum-shot straight to the feet of Candreva, who could not miss from six yards out.

With San Siro in full voice and the visitors reeling, Inter sensed the chance of an early killing blow and it duly arrived before the 20-minute mark.

Icardi beat the offside trap to collect Candreva’s fine throughball and, after turning past the sliding Rodriguez, he skipped beyond a meek challenge from Davide Astori before confidently slotting beneath Tatarusanu.

The visitors did find a lifeline eight minutes before half-time, however, as Kalinic raced onto a fine lofted pass from Milan Badelj and half-volleyed the ball into the ground and past Handanovic for his 10th goal of the season.

But any hope of a comeback was ended in first-half stoppage time. Rodriguez raised an arm to bring down Icardi 20 yards from goal and he was surprisingly given a straight red card by referee Antonio Damato, who seemed to judge it to be a professional foul.

Inter went in search of a fourth and twice came close before the hour mark, Ever Banega being denied by a low stop from Tatarusanu before Icardi’s shot was tipped onto the post after a fine run and pass from Joao Mario.

Miranda was fortunate to receive only a booking after raising an arm to the face of Ilicic, but Fiorentina got a stroke of luck when Ilicic’s low effort from the left of the penalty area bobbled off the turf and beyond the wrong-footed Handanovic with a little over an hour played.

Inter missed a clear chance for a fourth when Joao Mario cleared the crossbar from only six yards out, but their third victory in nine league games was at last made safe in stoppage time, with Icardi tapping in a rebound after Tatarusanu had denied Perisic’s stylish run and shot.

Forget Messi & Ronaldo: Mauro Icardi is leading the way for struggling Inter

The Argentine has been involved in all but six of the Nerazzurri’s goals so far this season, despite attracting criticism from fans and even calls to hand in the armband

Inter may have staggered from one crisis to another at the start of the 2016-17 campaign, but at least they can rely on their captain Mauro Icardi to deliver the goods. 

Not only has the Argentine had to contend with an underachieving club, but he has also attracted criticism with comments made about the Inter ultras that led to some calling for his removal as skipper. 

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And yet, 14 matches into the Serie A season, Icardi outranks the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann as Europe’s most prolific striker. 

Icardi’s first-half goal to put the Nerazzurri 3-1 up against Fiorentina on Monday was his 11th of the league season. He scored his 12th late into the tie to secure a 4-2 win for his side.

Those goals, coupled with a further four assists, mean he has contributed directly to 16 strikes this campaign, more than any other player in Europe’s top-five leagues. 

16 – @MauroIcardi ha participado en 16 goles (12 goles 4 asist.), más que cualquier jugador en el Top 5 de ligas europeas en 2016/17. Brillo
— OptaJavier (@OptaJavier) 28 de noviembre de 2016

Inter as a whole have hit the net 22 times, with Icardi scoring more than half their overall total and participating in all but six of the goals. 

The club’s breathtaking start against Fiorentina helped erase memories of Thursday’s disastrous Europa League elimination. 

3- Inter scored 3 goals in the first 19 minutes in a Serie A match for the 1st time since January 1990 (Matthäus-Klinsmann vs Bologna). Epic

— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) 28 de noviembre de 2016

It also set a new milestone for the team, as their best start to a match in no less than 26 years. 

Icardi fires warning to Inter after another second-half scare

The San Siro club need to learn to control matches they are winning after a scare against 10-man Fiorentina, their captain has warned

Inter captain Mauro Icardi has fired a warning to his side over their second-half performances after they almost let a commanding lead slip against Fiorentina on Monday.

Forget Messi & Ronaldo: Mauro Icardi is leading the way for struggling Inter

Stefano Pioli celebrated his first victory as head coach as the home side secured a 4-2 win over the Viola at San Siro to move into the top eight in Serie A.

Inter raced into a 3-0 lead inside 20 minutes and Fiorentina played the second half with 10 men after Gonzalo Rodriguez’s red card, but a first-half goal from Nikola Kalinic and a strike just before the hour-mark from Josip Ilicic gave the visitors hope of a stunning turnaround.

Icardi tapped in his second goal in injury time to kill off the game but the Argentine striker was nonetheless concerned by their inability to control proceedings in the second period, especially in the wake of their shock 3-2 Europa League loss to Hapoel Be’er Sheva last Thursday, when they conceded three times in the last 32 minutes.
“It was a game we needed to perform in, and we did, although we dropped off a bit in the second half in the same way as we did in Israel,” he told Sky Sport Italia. “Clearly that’s something we need to work on.

“I think our fitness levels aren’t the issue. I don’t know if it’s a fear of winning, either, but we need to control the situation better when we take the lead. This keeps happening.”

Icardi scored twice after setting up Marcelo Brozovic to fire home Inter’s opener, with Antonio Candreva also on target in an impressive attacking display in front of representatives from the club’s Suning Group owners.

Ronaldo ends injury rumours

Icardi hopes the performance can be a turning point as they look to challenge for the top three in Serie A and justify the significant outlay on players in the last 18 months.

“They came to wish us the best and I think they’ll go back to China happy,” Icardi said.

“I don’t know what has been going wrong this season. I’ve said since the summer that, individually, we have some of the best players in Serie A, but we need everyone to work as a team.”

Pioli slams Inter mentality after Europa League exit

The coach was angered by his side’s performance which he felt was not worthy of the team’s name and felt their second-half performance in particular was awful

Stefano Pioli criticised the mentality of his fragile Inter side after they crashed out of Europe on Thursday, losing 3-2 at Hapoel Be-er Sheva having led 2-0. 
Schweinsteiger offered escape route
Inter captain Mauro Icardi gave his side the lead in Israel after just 12 minutes and Marcelo Brozovic soon added a second to put Pioli’s men completely in control of the Europa League tie.

But Lucio Maranhao struck back and when goalkeeper Samir Handanovic was sent off and conceded a penalty, Anthony Nwakaeme levelled from the spot before Ben Sahar scored Hapoel’s dramatic late winner to dump Inter out.

Pioli felt Inter believed they had done enough to win the game and allowed the Israeli side to come back into the match by dropping their intensity.
Inter crash out of Europe
“We stopped playing as a team and were presumptuous,” Pioli told reporters. “That should never happen and we cannot afford to do that if we want to win games.

“We had the chance to go 3-0 up and didn’t take it. We must work hard to ensure we don’t keep giving away certain opportunities. We cannot play such a two-faced match. In the first half we did really well, badly in the second. All we needed to do was maintain that attitude.”

The Italian said Inter’s fitness could not be blamed for their collapse, with the Serie A side having conceded five times in his two matches in charge.

“In fitness terms we’re ok, as we pushed at the end. What matters here is the mentality and we must improve,” Pioli said. 

“The past no longer counts, what matters is the present and we cannot be satisfied with our work. We are working on all fronts: physical, psychological and tactical. A team that plays that well in the first half cannot offer a second-half performance like that.
“Inter have players of great quality, but we need to know how to suffer under pressure. The performance was not worthy of Inter. We got too deep and allowed Hapoel back into the game. I changed a few things, trying to recover the balance that we had lost.”

Hapoel coach Barak Bakhar accepted Handanovic’s dismissal was a pivotal moment, but said his attacking changes helped his side to pull off a historic victory over the Serie A giants.

“In the first half we played badly, we were too fragile,” Bakhar said. “Then in the second half we grew, helped by our fans.

“When we play against European teams we must be daring. For this reason I had to introduce offensive players to retrieve the result. Then obviously the game changed with the expulsion of Handanovic.

“Physically we were very good. The credit belongs to everyone, not just mine: the trainers, doctors and all the staff.”

Hapoel Be'er Sheva 3-2 Inter: Nerazzurri crash out of Europa League

Stefano Pioli saw his new charges contrive to throw away a winning position in a dreadful second half, meaning the side can no longer progress to the knockout stages

Ten-man Inter crashed out of the Europa League after letting a two-goal lead slip as Hapoel Be’er Sheva roared back in the second half to win 3-2 on Thursday.

Although Inter’s 2-2 derby draw against AC Milan in Stefano Pioli’s first match as coach on Sunday gave fans reason for optimism, in the end there were few positives to come from their trip to Israel, as the Italian giants’ already slim hopes of reaching the knockout phase were vanquished.

Despite finding themselves in the uncomfortable position of partly relying on the outcome of Southampton’s trip to Sparta Prague in the other Group K fixture, Inter played with freedom during the first half and were deserving of a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Mauro Icardi and Marcelo Brozovic.

Icardi went close to giving Inter a third when he struck the crossbar just after the break, but Hapoel swiftly capitalised and pulled one back through Lucio Maranhao.

Hapoel then levelled against the odds through Anthony Nwakaeme, with goalkeeper Samir Handanovic receiving his marching orders in the process of conceding the spot-kick.

The home side piled on the pressure and deep into stoppage time, Ben Sahar struck to further confirm Inter’s exit and leave Hapoel needing just a score draw in their final game at Southampton to progress.

Inter almost found themselves in real trouble as early as the fourth minute when Maor Buzaglo saw his low right-wing cross deflect off Yuto Nagatomo and on to the bar.

But if anything, that scare jolted Inter into life and they were ahead eight minutes later, as Icardi got ahead of his marker and steered Eder’s clever disguised cross in at the near post.

The visitors then doubled their advantage just before the half-hour mark and in some style.

Eder inspired a lovely one-touch passing move from the left, gradually making his way inside and exchanging possession with Icardi and Ever Banega, before spreading the play to Brozovic and the Croatian slammed a fine left-footed effort in off the far post from 20 yards.

Inter’s control continued into the second half and Icardi almost grabbed himself an emphatic second in the 52nd minute, as the Argentinian drove a fierce effort on to the crossbar from just inside the box.

Hapoel took full advantage of that let-off and gave themselves a lifeline just before the hour mark – Maranhao heading Maharan Radi’s sweeping cross past Handanovic.

That goal sparked a real upsurge from the hosts and Buzaglo won a penalty 19 minutes from time as Handanovic rushed out to tackle the striker and wildly caught him in the face with a flailing foot, earning himself a second yellow card in the process.

Nwakaeme dispatched the resulting spot-kick past substitute goalkeeper Juan Pablo Carrizo.

Hapoel poured men forward towards the end and their persistence paid off in stoppage time, as Mohammad Ghadir brilliantly back-heeled a pass across the edge of the box and substitute Sahar coolly beat Carrizo to leave the delirious home fans dreaming of a place in the last 32.

Pioli offers Inter hope to Banega

The Argentine is a “great player” despite not being part of the recently appointed manager’s plans for the Milan derby, the Italian has stressed

Inter boss Stefano Pioli insists he is a fan of midfielder Ever Banega, despite dropping him for the Milan derby.

Pioli not worried by Simeone talk

The Nerazzurri drew 2-2 against city rivals AC Milan in Pioli’s first match in charge on Sunday, with the omission of the former Sevilla star one of three changes to his first starting XI from the club’s previous outing.

Banega remained on the substitutes’ bench throughout the match, but the former Lazio boss handed him a boost ahead of Thursday’s Europa League match away to Hapoel Be’er Sheva by praising his ability.

“We are talking about a great player,” Pioli told reporters at his pre-match media conference about Banega, who has made 13 appearances across all competitions this season.

“I like dynamic midfielders and Banega moves very well between the lines.

“I have not dropped anyone – I choose on a game-by-game basis who I consider most suited to that encounter.
“I cannot say if he will play [against Hapoel] or not, but I like a dynamic midfield.”

Winger Antonio Candreva, meanwhile, called on Inter to improve their performances with them sitting bottom of Europa League Group K after four games having lost at home to Hapoel earlier in the campaign.

“We know Be’er Sheva are a well-drilled side but we are Inter – we want to take the game to them and win,” Candreva said.

“The boss wants us to be mobile so that our opponents have no reference points. We all have to give 100 per cent. We have to do better. 

‘Strootman good enough for Barca or Bayern’

“We are playing for a great club and we must honour this shirt at all times.”

Due to Inter’s poor start in the competition, even two straight wins to finish the group campaign will not guarantee them a place in the last 32.