That match was not fun, it was heartbreaking. It wasn't entertaining, it was stressful. For every emotional high, there was a crushing blow mere moments later. But that's just kind of how Napoli's season is going, isn't it?
The first half was ragged and frankly not very entertaining. The first chance of the match came for Inter Milan with Joel Obi cutting in from the right wing, sending Miguel Britos spinning around and opening space for him to fire a hard shot with his left foot. It was a good shot and a great job creating it, but Rafael was able to save it without much trouble.
That moment wasn't just embarrassing for Britos, it was apparently damaging as well; it quickly became apparent that something wasn't quite right, and several minutes later he collapsed in a heap after stretching to try and block another shot. It looked at first that he would have to come out as Faouzi Ghoulam was sent out to warm up quickly and the trainers seemed to be calling for a sub, but Britos waved them off and stayed on the pitch. It was quickly clear that was the wrong decision, though, as Britos struggled with his mobility the rest of the match, and was utterly incapable of joining the attack because he simply couldn't get forward at all.
Afterwards, things were... frustrating. Napoli struggled badly to get much of anything cohesive going in attack, with Jose Callejon and Gonzalo Higuain both looking poor, and Inter marking Marek Hamsik very aggressively. Lorezno Insigne was very active and effective, but there was only so much he could do working basically on his own. He was very good in defense, though, including hauling back in a hurry to break up a dangerous Inter counter attack.
Inter definitely held the upper hand for much of the half (though they didn't play particularly well themselves), with several good chances that caused stress for Napoli fans. Thanks to some heads-up goalkeeping from Rafael (and an assist from the post on a particular shot from Hernanes), Napoli were able to fend off Inter's attacks and got to the half with the score still knotted up at zero.
The second half started as more of the same, but Napoli did have a gorgeous chance not long in to it. Insigne found himself with a pocket of space in front of goal to shoot in... but some quality goalkeeping from Samir Handanovic forced Insigne to pull his shot a little, and the resulting effort clanged off the post.
The match hit the hour mark as a dull, uninspired affair, then Rafa Benitez made three subs over the next fifteen minutes to try and change things up. First was to take off Hamsik, a move both widely panned and praised by Twitter, in favor of Jorginho to change Napoli's shape a bit and get the Brazilian's better set-piece service on the pitch. Then came Dries Mertens for Insigne, and then Britos was finally taken off for Ghoulam after struggling with his injury for over an hour.
The changes finally worked not long after Ghoulam came on. Napoli got a throw in from the left side, one that Inter didn't deal with well. Nemanja Vidic tried to head it away, but didn't get a clean hit on it, That resulted in something that was more of a flick-on across the box... one that Jose Callejon controlled and fired home.
The celebration didn't last long, though. Inter quickly earned a corner, and Fredy Guarin, put in to the match in response to Napoli's goal, caught Gokhan Inler and Raul Albiol napping, running clean through the box and heading the corner in unopposed. It was a shocking lack of concentration, and yet another example of shoddy set piece defense for Napoli.
Both sides kept pushing hard for a goal, and Napoli found one first. Jorginho chipped a ball up to David Lopez at the edge of the box just before the stroke of 90 minutes, and the Spaniard curled in a lovely ball over the top of Inter's napping defense to an unmarked run of Callejon's, who volleyed home with ease.
While the rest of Callejon's match was, frankly, poor, he deserves full credit for taking full advantage of the best two chances presented to him, because they were both very lovely goals. Lopez and Jorginho also deserve a lot of credit on that second goal, Jorginho for dropping a perfect ball that switched the direction of play, and Lopez for seeing Callejon's run and placing a sublime ball in to a spot that only Ziggy could get to.
Again, though, the celebrations were short-lived. Inter pushed forward hard again, and Napoli's defense went to sleep as their concentration slipped with the end of stoppage time approaching. Once more, it was Inler and Albiol not tracking a run, as Hernanes slipped through the lines and hammered home a second back-breaking equalizer for Inter.
While a road draw might have been acceptable before the match, to have thrown away two points like Napoli did today is completely unacceptable. These lapses in defensive concentration are long past a point where they can be excused, and the set piece breakdowns are mind-numbingly horrible at this stage.
No discipline. No focus. No plan. No execution. No win.
These results aren't OK. They aren't acceptable. They aren't going to do a damn thing to help Napoli's season. Things need to change, dramatically and soon, or this season will be fully off the rails. Given that it's mid-October, that's an untenable position to be in.
Inter Milan: Handanovic; Ranocchia, Vidic, Juan Jesus; Obi (Mbaye 57'), Hernanes, Medel (Guarin 80'), Kovacic, Dodo; Palacio (M'Vila 88'), Icardi
Goals: Guarin 82'; Hernanes 90'+1
Napoli: Rafael; Zuniga, Albiol, Koulibaly, Britos (Ghoulam 74'); Inler, Lopez; Insigne (Mertens 68'), Hamsik (Jorginho 62'), Callejon; Higuain
Goals: Callejon 78', 89'