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Written By Onyeka Daniel

Yesterday, Inter Milan defeated Napoli at the Diego Armando Maradona stadium to depose Juventus from the top of the table, but the game wasn’t devoid of controversies, at least from the point of view of the defending champions who felt that several decisions should have gone their way.

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The hosts thought Lautaro Martinez fouled Stanislav Lobotka in the build-up to the Calhanoglu goal, while penalty appeals were waved away for a Francesco Acerbi clip on Victor Osimhen’s heel. Hence, the club’s CEO Aurelio de Laurentiis has already spoken to the FIGC to lodge a complaint about refereeing during the 3-0 loss to Inter in the Serie A.

There was the feeling that were denied a rather obvious penalty and also several decisions went against them, as chaos ensued after the end of the game. According to reports, De Laurentiis was left furious by the officiating in the game and it was De Laurentiis himself who decided that Walter Mazzarri will not speak to the press. De Laurentiis and Mazzarri were both angry about Davide Massa’s refereeing.

At the end of the game, De Laurentiis called the head of the FIGC and Referees Association and he protested against the refereeing of the game. Napoli believe that they have been seriously left damaged and it is unlikely that Massa will be fully suspended, but it is likely that he will never referee a Napoli game again.


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Walter Mazzarri opted not to speak after the defeat to Inter, as Napoli director Mauro Meluso outlined their fury at ‘an off day for the referee and VAR.’ Although the Nerazzurri were largely dominant, there were quite a few moments for Napoli too, such as Matteo Politano thumping the crossbar. “Mazzarri preferred not to come here, because we want him to be on the bench and therefore wanted to avoid him making certain comments that could get him into trouble.

“We are very unhappy and feel that we and our fans do not deserve this kind of treatment. It feels like the referee and VAR had an off day, which of course can happen to anyone. “The first goal knocked the wind out of our sails and it had a foul in the build-up on Lobotka that was obvious. It warranted an immediate intervention from the referee, even without help from VAR, as it was so obvious.”

The Lautaro Martinez challenge, with an arm wrapped around Lobotka’s torso, was a long way before the goal and sparked the Inter attack. Refereeing expert Luca Marelli evaluated this and said VAR could not intervene because the referee had a full view of the situation and waved play on. Of course, replay showed that it was the Napoli player that went to challenge Lautaro for the ball. “The second incident that honestly saw us penalised was the penalty on Osimhen,” continued Meluso.

“I was a player too, when they clip your Achilles tendon, you lose your balance and you go down. It is evidently a foul that should’ve been sanctioned with a penalty.” On this situation, refereeing expert Marelli insisted the touch was far too light to warrant a penalty and again referee Davide Massa was in an ideal position to evaluate. “We are not conspiracy theorists, we do not feel there is any ulterior motive behind this other than an off day.

However, we need to point it out because losing this heavily in front of our fans is disappointing. “It’s not an alibi, but conceding that goal in that way really influenced us for the rest of the match. I was honestly disconcerted by the fact these decisions were not overturned, because we’ve seen a lot of penalties given like that.”

The result also means that Napoli are caught by Roma in fourth place, while Fiorentina are only one behind them. “We lost against a great team like Inter, we were pleased with the overall performance, as Napoli gave their all. This is also why we are so angry, as we did not deserve this treatment.

“As I said, we are not looking for excuses, but unfortunately when you play against big clubs like Inter, a disparity of treatment like this is going to be decisive.” For Napoli captain, Giovanni Di Lorenzo, he admitted that there is now ‘a very big gap’ from leaders Inter, but the next match against Juventus ‘will be a head-to-head’ for position.

“There is a very big gap now, there’s no point talking about the Scudetto,” Di Lorenzo told DAZN. “We have to take it one game at a time and see where we are. It will be a head-to-head with Juve, we know what this fixture means to our fans and will prepare it in the best possible way. “There is a gap, but anything can happen in football and we did not deserve to lose the last two games.” Juventus are second, only two points behind Inter, while Napoli have now been caught by Roma in joint fourth.

That clash will be at the Allianz Juventus Stadium in Turin on Friday December 8. This was the third match under new coach Walter Mazzarri, who had overseen a 2-1 win away to Atalanta and 4-2 Champions League defeat to Real Madrid. “Obviously we cannot be happy with the result, even if we put in a good performance. At least we are starting to play good football again and created plenty of chances, we just didn’t convert them and that is disappointing.”

Di Lorenzo was asked how Mazzarri had approached the squad after taking over from sacked Rudi Garcia a couple of weeks ago. “He tried to bring everyone back together, because it was a difficult situation and we were not getting results. He brought back some confidence, because this is a strong squad, even if we don’t have much time to work in training. The coach already knows the club and the atmosphere in Naples, so that helps.” He further added.

Meanwhile…

Hakan Calhanoglu scored a wonderful goal to spark Inter’s 3-0 win away to Napoli, but explains why a new side to his game has been discovered. ‘It is not easy to be a playmaker after a trequartista.’ The Turkey international has always been famous for his ferocious long-range finishes and added another to the list with this evening’s daisy-cutter into the bottom corner.

“Napoli have a lot of quality and it was important for us to send this signal to everyone,” Calhanoglu told Sky Sport Italia. “We stayed sharp and concentrated, pressed high to make sure they couldn’t move the ball around. They have such great individuals like Kvaratskhelia, Osimhen and Politano who like to run at opponents, so we limited them by refusing to sit deep. I think that was the key.”

Read Also: Inter Hero Highlights The Major Difference Between Napoli And Juventus After An Impressive Win Over The Defending Champions

When he was playing for Milan, Calhanoglu was often disappointing and only showed flashes of his current performances when placed behind the strikers. However, since having to fill in for the injured Marcelo Brozovic, he has found a whole new lease of life as a midfield playmaker, even chasing down loose balls and making last-ditch tackles.

“I always did have that hunger to help the team, you are just not used to seeing it. I can say it is not easy to be a playmaker after being a trequartista. I analyzed many situations, the staff helped me. I get a few more yellow cards, but that’s just part of the role.” This victory allows Inter to retain top spot and a two-point advantage over Juventus.

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