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Rediff.com  » Sports » Serie A: Leaders Inter held at Genoa; Red cards for Napoli-Monza coaches

Serie A: Leaders Inter held at Genoa; Red cards for Napoli-Monza coaches

December 30, 2023 10:22 IST
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Genoa's Albert Gudmundsson in action with Inter Milan's Alessandro Bastoni during their match at Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris, Genoa, Italy on Friday

IMAGE: Genoa's Albert Gudmundsson in action with Inter Milan's Alessandro Bastoni during their match at Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris, Genoa, Italy on Friday. Photograph: Daniele Mascolo/Reuters

Serie A leaders Inter Milan were held to a 1-1 draw away to Genoa on Friday as Marko Arnautovic's first league goal for the club was cancelled out by a header from Radu Dragusin.

 

Inter are top with 45 points but the result gives second-placed Juventus, on 40, an opportunity to close the gap as they host AS Roma on Saturday. Genoa are 13th with 20.

Inter broke the deadlock after 42 minutes when Austrian Arnautovic found himself in the right place to tap home a rebound off the post following Nicolo Barella's volley.

He opened his account for the club in Serie A after being sidelined for several matches due to a hamstring injury following his loan move from Bologna in the close season.

However, Genoa equalised in first-half stoppage time when Dragusin's powerful header from a corner eluded Yann Sommer despite the goalkeeper getting both hands on the ball.

"We knew the type of game that we were going into. Genoa are in great shape, both physically and mentally, it was a hard-fought match," Inter manager Simone Inzaghi told DAZN.

"The second half probably would have been different without conceding at that moment (in first-half added time). We wanted to win, we are not happy with the point, but we must continue and remember that every match holds dangers."

The game was interrupted for about eight minutes just after the start with the release of several flares resulting in dense smoke that reduced visibility following heavy rainfall.

As the smoke cleared Genoa showed little respect for injury-hit Inter, who were missing key players like Lautaro Martinez and Federico Dimarco, and came close to scoring several times.

Having already managed to hold Juventus to a 1-1 draw earlier in the month at Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Genoa were again driven forward by an enthusiastic home crowd.

Inter started to gain momentum around the hour mark and Francesco Acerbi almost put them back in front with a header only for Josep Martinez to make a fine save.

"It was not easy to play on a heavy pitch that made it tough for both teams," Inzaghi added. "We had a huge chance with Acerbi - their goalkeeper made a great save - and we tried to limit their counter-attacks."

The match then fizzled out with few clear-cut chances and both sides appeared content to end the year with a draw.

"We must retain the solidity, the hunger and clearly try to bring more consistency," said Inzaghi. "We know that we’re not even halfway through the season. It will be a long and tough road with difficulties that we must overcome."

In Friday's other late game, Lazio recovered from a goal down to beat visiting Frosinone 3-1 courtesy of Valentin Castellanos, Gustav Isaksen and Patric in a 14-minute spell late in the match. Maurizio Sarri's side are eighth on 27 points.

Inter will start the New Year by hosting lowly Hellas Verona on Jan. 6, while Lazio visit Udinese the following day.

Wasteful Napoli held to goalless draw by visiting Monza

Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri reacts as he gets into an altercation with Monza players after their match at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, Naples, Italy, on Friday

IMAGE: Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri reacts as he gets into an altercation with Monza players after their match at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, Naples, Italy, on Friday. Photograph: Jennifer Lorenzini/Reuters

Napoli's pursuit of a top-four spot took a hit as they were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Monza, who missed a penalty, after the hosts spurned several chances in their Serie A clash on Friday.

Monza had the opportunity to grab the win from the spot following a handball by Juan Jesus but Matteo Pessina's tame effort in the 68th minute was easily saved by Alex Meret.

The draw leaves Napoli in seventh place with 28 points, five points off the top four places and 16 adrift of leaders Inter Milan, who visit Genoa later on Friday. Monza are 11th on 22.

Fiorentina moved up to fourth after a goal by Luca Ranieri in the 83rd minute secured a 1-0 home win over Torino.

"I am not worried by the table, my focus is on getting my lads to play well and today that is what they did," Napoli manager Walter Mazzarri told DAZN. "The only regret is that we failed to score a goal, but we deserved to win 2-0 or 3-0."

Napoli missed the finishing of the suspended Victor Osimhen who was sent off in their 2-0 loss at AS Roma last weekend.

Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock shortly before halftime with a close-angle volley, but Monza's Michele Di Gregorio made a superb reaction save.

Napoli's Khvicha Kvaratskhelia then struck a shot from just outside the box that missed the post by inches.

He had another chance early in the second half in a one-on-one with Di Gregorio, who saved the attempt with his legs.

At the end frustration boiled over for Mazzarri, leading to his dismissal following an altercation, while Monza coach Raffaele Palladino also received a red card in stoppage time for comments made to the referee.

"At one point, it looked like a game of rugby more than football," Mazzarri said. "I went over to the referee and told him that Kvara (Kvaratskhelia) was not allowed to play because he was systematically fouled. The rules have to be applied."

Monza's unused substitute, Mirko Maric, was shown a red card deep into stoppage time, seemingly for kicking a ball away.

Napoli start the New Year with a visit to Torino on Jan. 7.

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