Inter settle for Serie A draw with Napoli after late Juan Jesus header

A late header from Juan Jesus earned Napoli an unlikely point against Inter on Serie A Matchday 29, with both sides' Champions League exploits clearly impacting their performances.

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STADIO GIUSEPPE MEAZZA (Milan) – As much as the game felt like a passing of the baton between Inter‘s outgoing and incoming Serie A champions, a 1-1 home draw against Napoli won’t relieve Inter‘s disappointment after their painful Champions League exit in midweek.

Former Inter youth academy product Juan Jesus struck 10 minutes from time to respond to Matteo Darmian‘s opener, halting the Nerazzurri’s 10-game winning streak in Serie A.

As much as Napoli can be happy after having avoided a loss on a difficult night, the display was further proof of their inability to dominate against the best. Inter finished 18 points behind Napoli last season, but the gap is now 31 points in the other direction.

Darmian strikes to give Inter first-half lead

Darmian Inter
Inter’s Matteo Darmian celebrates. [@Inter_en]

The hosts immediately seemed up for a strong start as Henrikh Mkhitaryan‘s burst through the midfield almost put Marcus Thuram through on goal, but the Frenchman was under too much pressure to get a shot away.

Napoli were intense in pressing Inter as they tried to play out from the back, so the Nerazzurri had to be extremely patient in getting up the pitch.

The first such occasion saw the Nerazzurri free Federico Dimarco on the left, from where he delivered an inviting cross that Lautaro Martinez met at the near post, but the Argentinian’s shot got deflected and only resulted in a corner kick.

Napoli survived another chance when the danger came from Dimarco‘s side again. Matteo Darmian‘s diving header was initially saved by Alex Meret, who was quick to react and stop a follow-up attempt from Lautaro on the rebound.

After an opening phase marked by Napoli‘s sterile possession, Inter became more intense and were getting the ball to the forwards much quicker, but their runs behind the Napoli defence were ineffective.

Inter Bastoni Napoli Di Lorenzo
Inter’s Alessandro Bastoni controls the ball in front of Napoli’s Giovanni Di Lorenzo. [@Inter_en]

When it looked like the Nerazzurri were going to be frustrating until half-time, they found the lead at the end of a nice sequence of play that once again showcased their fluid style and ability to involve multiple players in each attack.

The team moved the ball swiftly from right to left, allowing Alessandro Bastoni to whip in a low cross that saw Darmian pounce on the ball to fire home, his second goal in the last four Serie A matches.

Juan Jesus’ late goal earns Napoli an unexpected draw

Inter‘s opener just before the break didn’t seem to satisfy their hunger as they returned to the field clearly in search of a second, and Meret was called upon twice in the opening 10 minutes to keep out Lautaro and Dimarco‘s shots.

Napoli‘s attacks were rare and of limited potency, but the Nerazzurri failed to turn their constant presence in Napoli‘s final third into that all-important second goal which would have secured yet another victory.

Inter Napoli
Inter’s Marcus Thuram up against Napoli’s Mathias Olivera and Juan Jesus. [@Inter_en]

And on a night that had seen the Azzurri’s offensive trio offer very little, it was particularly odd for the hosts to lose their focus during a set piece, one of the few situations that could see the visitors pose a threat. Bastoni‘s flick from a corner ended up in the path of a totally unmarked Juan Jesus, who could easily head home at the far post against his former side.

A series of controversial calls from the referee sparked a surge in tension in the closing minutes, as a growingly nervous Inter side tried to roar back but without any success, meaning they failed to win a Serie A game for the first time in 2024.

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