Inter fall further behind as Napoli pull 15 points clear

GENOA: Inter Milan allowed Napoli to pull 15 points clear at the top of Serie A after being held to a goalless draw at struggling Sampdoria on Monday. Simone Inzaghi’s side already had little hope of recapturing the league title conceded to local rivals AC Milan last season and the yawning gap between them and Napoli widened following an underwhelming display in Genoa.

Napoli cruised past Cremonese 3-0 on Sunday and look with each passing week more likely to claim a first league crown since 1990. Second-placed Inter are three points ahead of Atalanta, Roma and Milan in the race for next season’s Champions League. Lazio are five points back in sixth after being beaten by Atalanta in Rome on Saturday night. When asked if the title was beyond his team, Inzaghi said “I keep saying we can only look at ourselves”.

“We’re not satisfied with the result, in fact we’re very disappointed as we should be.” Inzaghi picked Romelu Lukaku alongside in-form Lautaro Martinez, the powerful strike partnership which won Inter the 2021 Scudetto. But Lukaku is nowhere near the form which led to Chelsea paying a club-record fee for his services the following summer and the Belgium forward was replaced by Edin Dzeko midway through the second half having made little impact.

Turkey midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu went close with distance efforts in either half on a night in which the Inter fans in the stands at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris honored the victims of the devastating recent earthquake which hit his country and Syria. Over 35,000 people have been killed by the earthquake and Calhanoglu appeared to be in tears when supporters unfurled banners which read “close to Turkey and Syria, Calha one of us”. The 29-year-old Calhanoglu wore a T-shirt with the message “Pray for Turkiye” during the pre-match warm-up. “I thank my teammates, fans and club for being close to me at tis time,” Calhanoglu said to Sky after the match.

“We’re trying to help our country in any way we can… The images we have seen hurt, but life goes on and I hope the people get out of that situation as soon as possible.” Monday’s draw is a good result for troubled Samp but a point does little for the survival hopes of a team firmly ensconced in the relegation zone. Dejan Stankovic’s side have collected 11 points from their 22 matches and are eight behind Spezia, who sit just outside the drop zone and drew at Empoli on Saturday. Verona are two points behind Spezia following their 1-0 win over Salernitana earlier on Monday. – AFP

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