In a match that's been overshadowed by an exchange between the managers in stoppage time -- more on that here-- Napoli lost 2-0 to Inter Milan in the Coppa Italia. It wasn't a very good match by any perspective, and now Napoli have one less trophy to fight for.
Napoli too often seemed like they were lifeless, just drifting through the match instead of attacking it with their usual vim and vigor. They had chances to score, to be sure, but with Samir Handanovic in fine form in goal Napoli needed many more chances than they created.
At the core of the problem was the midfield -- with Marek Hamsik sitting on the bench to start and Allan struggling to get forward, the front line simply didn't get enough support, allowing Inter to mark out Dries Mertens and Jose Callejon with ease while their center backs doubled up on Manolo Gabbiadini. If more pressure had come from midfield -- or from the fullbacks, who were kept oddly deep in comparison to normal for much of the match -- things might have been easier for Napoli's attack.
Inter, in comparison, were fairly restrained with their attacks but brutally lethal when chances presented themselves. Twice Napoli made major errors late in the match, and Inter scored off them both -- once when Hamsik lost possession deep in midfield and no one closed down Stevan Jovetic's run with the ball, gifting him an easy goal, and again when Napoli got caught out on the counter in stoppage time, with Adem Ljajic running free for 50-odd yards before slotting past Pepe Reina with ease.
Simply put, Napoli didn't play well. Inter didn't either, really, but they took the chances that Napoli gifted them and avoided making major mistakes themselves. That was the difference in the match, and Napoli are out of the Coppa Italia for it -- and based on their performance, they kind of deserved to lose. They certainly didn't do enough to earn a win, and those two mistakes were absolutely brutal to watch unfold.
That's probably a blessing in disguise, really. Napoli's depth issues mean that fixture congestion is bad news, so avoiding a two-legged tie against Juventus in the semi-final is a good thing. Still, seeing Napoli lose and play poorly in the process isn't fun at all -- nor is the fallout of what happened at the end of the match.
Napoli: Reina; Hysaj, Chiriches, Koulibaly, Strinic; Allan (Hamsik 59'), Valdifiori, David Lopez (Jorginho 66'); Callejon, Gabbiadini (Higuain 71'), Mertens
Inter Milan: Handanovic; Nagatomo, Miranda, Juan Jesus, Telles; Medel (Melo 87'), Kondogbia; Biabiany, Ljajic, Perisic (Palacio 73'); Jovetic
Goals: Jovetic (74'), Ljajic (90'+2)