The top two in Italy's Serie A played out an intense goalless draw at the Estadio San Paulo, which allows the chasing pack to close the gap in the league. The USA vs. Ecuador live and direct: Friendly FIFA Date
Matchday nine in Serie A saw the top two, Napoli and Inter Milan, meet at the Estadio San Paolo, in a game many expected to have goals, but none were forthcoming. The visitors were well organised throughout and kept Mertens, Callejón, Insigne and Hamsik at bay, ending the only 100% record in Europe's big five.
Napoli vs Inter Milan online: match report
The game had the billing of a classic and despite there not being the goals that many would want to accompany the hype, this game delivered an intense affair where the takeaway is that the two best defences in the league won out.
100% record gone for Napoli
A good win against Roma in the capital followed by a stirring second half performance in Manchester had Napoli coming into this confident of keeping up their early push to be the dominant side this term. The impactful Insigne had been a doubt in the days leading up the the weekend but took his place alongside his talented teammates, and it was the home side that did much of the threatening in the first half.
The area where they looked most dangerous was down the left as Hamsik supported the diminutive Italian to good effect but while chances came, few were clear cut. The best of them presented itself to Mertens, who latched onto the initial block from Callejón's effort, and the stadium let out a collective sigh as Handanovic prevented the Belgian notching his eighth goal of the season.
Inter defence holds firm against top scorers
Napoli had more of the ball, and importantly often had it in the opposition third to create openings. However, Spalletti had his Inter team drilled to close down space and seemed happy to soak up the pressure and hit on the break. Playing the ball out of the back, holding onto it rather than launching it aimlessly, even hopefully, forward when under pressure from Napoli's frontline continued throughout, and effectively so. The home side did find gaps, but rarely, and the shots from distance could have caused problems, but didn't.
Around the hour mark there was a sense that a point for both teams would be acceptable, although when opportunities arose the winner was chased. This served up an intriguing contest and one that ensures they will keep their position at the head of the pack, and remain unbeaten after nine games.
Napoli vs Inter Milan online: how it happened live
Thank you for joining us for tonight's live offering from Serie A. We'll have a match report up here shortly and hope to see you again very soon...
Peeep peeep peeeeeeeeep! All over in Naples as the top two share the points.
90'+3' Napoli go one final time, Hysaj down the wing but it's defended well and out for a throw as the referee lifts the whistle to his lips.
90'+2' Kalidou Koulibaly into the book. Time is running out.
90'+1' Is there time to create another chance? They have been few and far between as Inter have impressed in their own final third.
90' 3 minutes added time
90' Chance!! Mertens gets in behind that defence and stretches his boot to get a shot away. Handanovic stays on his feet in front of him and pushes the ball round for a corner. The ball in is straight into the arms of a grateful keeper.
88' Inter's screening midfield in front of their defence have done a great job tonight. And the back four have snuffed out much of what Napoli have thrown at them.
86' Icardi goes off for Inter with Eder replacing him. Are both managers going to be satisfied with a point? The flow of the game in the latter part suggests it may play out that way.
I'd hate to say this game now has 0-0 written all over it but...
83' What a strike there from Zielinski and the keeper blocks in mid-air. We'll try and get a good pic of that for later!
82' Now Inter's impressive Candreva leaves the field (he looks exhausted), replaced by Cancelo
81' Lorenzo Insigne is replaced by Adam Ounas - what can Sarri ignite in the final ten minutes
80' Short corner to Candreva invites the cross and Mertens puts it safe. It looks like Napoli's main dangerman in the game could be going off.
79' Width again is the threat as Candreva runs into space and fires a low cross in from the right which is met and cleared by two Napoli players, Hysaj conceding the corner.
77' Inter try to build some possession which is met with whistles from the home crowd - I mean, how dare they have the ball. It ends with the newly introduced Joao Mario striking across Reina's goal. Not too far away but Pepe would have had it.
75' CLOSE! Great strike from Inisgne as he pounces onto a loose ball on the edge of the area but it flies just wide of the far post. My eyes suggest Handanovic had no chance had that been on target. Oooohhhs and sighs all round the San Paolo stadium.
The impressive Marek Hamsik is replaced by Piotr Zielinski
72' Immediately Mario gets invovled taking an Inter corner. It's well claimed above the crowd of players by Reina.
Inter change as Borja Valero is replaced by Joao Mario
70' Insigne tries again to make something happen but his cross is dealt with by Handanovic. Subs coming up.
66' A short stoppage in play as Candreva gets some treatment on the field before being taken off for more. He trots back on and looks ok to continue.
66' Miranda first to see a card
65' Icardi gets a run on down the right channel and shoulder to shoulder with Albiol is penalised for going in to strong.
62' Napoli go again and Insigne tries his luck from distance but it doesn't bother Handanovic's goal. Then Mertens gets a chance to run at the defence which is cleared for a corner by D'Ambrosio, which Perisic then clears. A potential head of steam being sensed here from the home side.
59' Inter get free down the right but Koulibaly stops the run at the expence of a corner. A Nagatomo shot from distance is deflected into the hands of Reina.
55' More pressure building for Napoli but again they come up against a dark blue wall. It's worth noting that Inter have the same goals against column as their hosts, only five conceded this season.
53' Pepe Reina had to be quick there, nipping in ahead of the striker to collect. Quick night for the ex-Liverpool stopper though.
51' Hamsik takes a bump from Candreva and Napoli have a free kick half way into Inter's half. It's lifted into a busy area but it's way over everyone. Poor from Jorginho.
49' There's a similar shape to this second half and Napoli's delivery from wide is met by an enclosed camp inside the visitors box. Something inventive may be required to break it down.
47' Chamce!! Great play by Inter as they flow through the middle of the park, beating the press, and Matias Vecino skips around an adventurous Reina in the inside channel before lifting it at an almost impossible angle into the goal. As celebratory arms raise Albiol's diving header clears it off the line.
46' Immediately Napoli win it back and Hysaj gets set free down the right. Inter do well to slow down the attack and then almost get a chance to hit back on the break.
Inter have us going again.
The teams are back out for the second half and it looks like Callejon has had the magic sponge do its thing. He's on the field and waiting for the whistle.
Who would you want giving you advice at half time? Here's one image that will be seen by one team right now...
What an interesting half. Pepe Reina had just that one intervention to make near the end but Inter have defended compactly and deserve to still be in this. Some lovely interplay by Napoli though has seen them go close and more of the same will be expected.
45' That looks nasty for Callejon - a jarring of the left knee it seems - and the referee brings the half to an end allowing the Spaniard to get some treatment with his oranges.
44' As we approach the half time whistle Napoli build up some nice play in the final third but, once again, Inter close down the space well and the recycled play leads to a speculative through ball being deflected away from danger. As Callejon races to beat the covering defender he slides to collect and has hurt himself in the process.
41' Chance! Inter almost take a surprise lead as Pepe Reina has his first significant involvement of the night tipping over a close range shot from Borja Valero. Really sharp stop from the Spanish keeper. Candreva's corner is cleared by Koulibaly
40' Mertens has worked hard for the Partenopei, chasing down defenders and running into channels, but so far has not had a lot to feed off.
38' Koulibaly makes a rare forage down the left and into the area. Seemingly unsure of what to do next he decides to put his laces through it from a tight angle but it goes high and across the face of goal.
37' Horrible pass from Gagliardini just when it looked like Inter could relieve some pressure. Using the outside of his boot he fluffs it out for a throw.
34' That initial confidence to play out from the back by Inter remains but Napoli close the space well and win a throw. From that on the right the ball is worked into the feet of Hamsik who lifts a perfectly weighted ball in behind the defence to Insigne on the run. His first-time header is straight at Handanovic who collects after blocking.
31' Inter holding their own here but are having to soak up much more of the pressure and hope to hit on the break. Hamsik and Insigne link up well again on the left and the former's ball in could have worked out better.
28' Napoli win another corner after a period of trying to break down a very compact defensive line from Inter. There's not a lot of room being left through the middle so, as is the case at the other end, width may be the solution. The corner is easily cleared by Skriniar and a Jorginho follow-up shot poses little danger.
25' The home side are edging the possession but not by as much as maybe you'd expect. Candreva now runs again at Ghoulam and finds enough space to lift over a deep cross. Perisic meets it about eight yards out and tries to bullet it goalwards but can't keep it down. This right flank proving profitable for the MIlan side.
23' Almost beautiful from the exciting Insigne who controls the ball drifted across to him on the touchline with the outside of his boot. His aim seemed to be to roll it out in front of him but he can't reach it before it's out for a throw. White-dusted boots for the Italian again.
21' Corner to Napoli. Swung in by Callejon and Miranda heads clear at the back post.
19' Chance! Best opportunity of the game so far as Callejon gets into the right channel and fires goalward but it's well blocked by Handanovic. The ball falls to Mertens and you'd put this week's salary on him tucking it way but the big keeper is there again with the block.
16' Now a quick turnover and Hamsik feeds Insigne on the left, just inside the opponents' area. He tries to bend a right-footed shot into the far corner but he needed a lot more curl to stop that going well wide.
15' Inter are more than happy to play the ball around under some serious pressure from their hosts. It doesn't always look completely under their control but they're quick to pick up the mistakes and keep the move going.
13' Jorginho lifts a deep free kick into the area, after Callejon had been brought down by Miranda, but Inter do well to deal with it. Decent game building I feel.
10' Another chance for the visitors as Candreva hits the by-line on the right, leaving Ghoulam for dead in the process, but he's unable to poick out the right pass and again it's cleared. D'Ambrosio follows up and has a pot shot from distance that sails over. Better from Inter.
8' Inter get their first chance as gets down the left on the break (that high press being neatly escaped from their own area). Perisic delivers a great ball across in front of Pepe Reina's goal but it's well blocked and cleared,
Inisgne causing plenty of concern already for the Inter backline and it's one-way traffic as Napoli force the high press.
5' Inisgne turns on the burners down the left touchline but is held up by covering defenders. A second chance presents itself to the diminutive Italian though and he tees up Hamsik whose strike is pure enough but flies wide of Handanovic's right post.
3' Patience being shown by Napoli in these opening minutes as they work the ball from the right, back, and to the left. Hamsik alomst fashions a shooting opportunity but the ball bobbles off him and out for a goal kick.
Early build up down the left from Insigne but Skriniar steps in and clears the danger.
The home side get us underway and are shooting right to left as we look.
And we're off!
Napoli playing in their light blue, Inter in dark navy and the officials in a rather bright pink
Spalletti and Sarri share a very warm embrace as the players get the photos out of the way and captains take to the centre circle.
As you'd expect there are some wonderful flags, banners and individual decoration around the stadium
Teams are in the tunnel where there are a lot of hugs and cleverly worked high-fives going on between opposing players. Let's see how long that friendliness lasts.
The man responsible for keeping everything above board tonight is Luca Banti. He was given a rest last week but is a man for the big occasion as his last outing was Roma’s win at Milan before the international break.
It's just 5 minutes till kick off at the San Paulo and we're very excited here. Let's hope the two side can live up to the billing...
Fans of those teams sitting in behind these two may well be hoping for a draw to be the outcome come half past ten. Lazio are the side in third and last season's champions Juventus are fourth, both three points behind Inter and five off Napoli. Cagliari visit the Italian capital on Sunday while the Old Lady travels to Friuli to play Udinese.
Earlier today in Serie A, Sampdoria ran out comfortable winners over Crotone. Five goals to nothing in front of their own fans which takes them up into fifth place for the time being.
For fans of the Premier League who have lauded the class of Manchester City this season, you may be interested to know that their manager, Pep Guardiola has been lauding the qualities of this current Napoli side. "They are maybe the best team I have faced," he said after the Champions League game.
Expect to see Yuto Nagatomo and Danilo D'Ambrosio under more pressure than they've been used to lately with the home side likely to go at them from the whistle.
So no major surprises in the team news as we look to see if Candreva and Perisic can get enough delivery into man-of-the-moment Icardi. If not, what other options can they look to use against a side that has only conceded five goals this season - and showed last week against Roma that they can fight it out it required.
One interesting transfer story that came across our desk the other day was Manchester City's mercurial Spaniard David Silva being linked with both Milan clubs. With City flying and Spain's World Cup squad looking strong, it would certainly be a move that could be questioned, but top players whose contracts are running down always grab attention.
Belgian striker Dries Mertens is leading the scoring for the table-toppers with seven. Supporting him is ex-Real Madrid player José Callejón with four. Two 30-year olds finding their best of form coming with experience. The missed penalty in Manchester midweek will not affect his confidence.
It'll come as little surprise to anyone who has been following Serie A this season that Napoli are leading the goal scoring charts. The Partenopei Gli Azzurri have notched up 26 goals in their opening eight league games, helped by them having an average of over 19 shots per game. Next in the shot count comes AC Milan but the conversion of the side currently in 10th place is significantly lower, only 12 goals from their 136 shots (average of 17 per game)
As I said earlier in our build up, the form guide gives this match a tantalising feel about it. Napoli (as you are more than aware, I'm sure) are defending their 100% record in Serie A while Inter have won all but one. Those two points were dropped away to Bologna in the middle of September when a 77th minute Icardi penalty ensured that I Nerazzurri didn't leave empty handed.
If you're wondering what time 20:45 CEST is in your part of the world, have a quick look at this guide and you'll wonder no more. It also includes some other methods for watching the game - that is if you enjoy background images to your live feed.
Inter coach Spalletti has been speaking ahead of the game: "The attitude shown when it was 2-2 in the Milan derby helps me understand the heart that these players have. We have the ability to create problems for Napoli. We must aim to challenge them and try to win."
In Inter's favour is the fact that they should be better rested than their hosts - a seventh place finish last season meant they didn't have any pesky European football during the week - and if momentum is anything to base your decisions on then they come into this match following an Icardi-hat-trick inspired 3-2 win over city rivals Milan last weekend. Napoli's last game was the 2-1 loss to Manchester City in the Champions League, although there was enough positives to be taken from their performance (against one of Europe's other hot teams) to suggest that all is still fine and dandy.
There are only two points separating these sides at the top of Serie A however the form book - that one that pays attention to actual play and not just the results - suggests that the home side will win this encounter. Inter are unbeaten (just the single draw blemish on their points tally) but they have shown plenty of inconsistency, dare I say fortune, across the opening set of fixtures. Napoli on the other hand have impressed pretty much throughout and will fancy their chances again tonight.
Napoli's Marek Hamsik moved closer to Diego Maradona's scoring record in the game against Cagliari (prior to the 1-0 win over Roma last week). It was his first goal of the season but his 114th for the club. Just another narrative to keep an eye on tonight at the San Paolo.
Talking of Ince, it's interesting how relatively few British players have ventured abroad to test and develop themselves in other countries. There are certainly plenty of foreign players now in the Premier League and that seems to be doing wonders for their national teams.
Hello and welcome to AS English's live coverage of the Serie A match between leaders Napoli and second placed Inter Milan at the San Paolo stadium in Naples.
Napoli vs Inter Milan live online: match preview
There are some games in world football that get you excited long before the ball is even kicked and the encounter on Saturday evening in Naples is just one such occasion. Last season saw Napoli finish third, just five points off eventual winners Juventus, while Inter were a further 24 points behind, in seventh. What makes this clash so appealing to football fans around Europe is that they meet as the current top two sides in Italy, both in a great vein of form, and both looking to maintain their unbeaten records.
Napoli team news
Napoli return to domestic action after their European setback on Tuesday as Maurizio Sarri's side lost 2-1 at Manchester City. But confidence will still be high after they showed great determination to almost pull back the deficit from a blistering start from the Premier League leaders.
Napoli are flying high with a perfect 24 points from eight games - two ahead of second-placed Inter - and a win would give the southerners a five-point cushion on their pursuers.
"We were defeated on the pitch but not in spirit," warned Amadou Diawara, who scored his maiden goal for Napoli in Manchester. "I'm happy with the goal in Manchester. It was pity about the result, but the mind is only focused on Inter now," the Guinean midfielder continued.
"We will play in San Paulo, in front of our people and the fans will give us a great boost. But we also know that we're meeting a team in great shape."
Sarri knows that the home side will be without Arkadiusz Milik, but other than that the manager will have a full strength squad to pick from. Lorenzo Insigne has three goals and four assists to his name this season and along with José Callejón (4 goals, 2 assists) and Dries Mertens (7 goals, 2 assists) will be looked at by the Partenopei faithful to provide the attacking threat after an impressive start to the season.
Inter Milan team news
Inter come into this early top-of-the-table meeting on the back of a hugely positive result in the Milan derby. A Mauro Icardi treble took them past city rivals AC Milan and now they are looking to keep up the momentum against high-flying Napoli knowing a win at the San Paolo stadium would be their first in two decades.
The Milan side should be fresher - seventh place last year means there was no European action midweek - and in Icardi have one of the hottest strikers of the moment. He already has nine goals to his name this campaign and has the highest shots on target ratio of all of the leading Serie A scorers hittting the space between the three pieces of metal on 17 of his 20 attempts (85%).
Inter's former Newcastle defender Davide Santon spoke ahead of the game and made it very clear that last Sunday's derby excitement was already far behind the team urging them to have "the right ruthlessness" as they target a serious title challenge this year.
Napoli vs Inter Milan live online: betting odds
The home side are rightly favourites with the bookmakers who will give decent 5/1 odds on Inter getting that elusive win here that we mentioned above. If you expect a goal-fest, then 9/1 may tempt you for both teams to score in each half. Now that would be fun!