Lautaro scores late to help Inter beat 10-man Napoli 1-0 and lift Italian Super Cup in Saudi Arabia

Mon, Jan 22, 2024
Soccer News (AP)

Lautaro scores late to help Inter beat 10-man Napoli 1-0 and lift Italian Super Cup in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) - Lautaro Martinez scored in second-half stoppage time and Inter Milan beat Napoli 1-0 in the Italian Super Cup final on Monday to lift the first trophy of the season, although both the player and the team have loftier ambitions for the rest of the campaign.

Lautaro struck in the first minute of stoppages, just as it appeared as if Napoli would take the match to penalties despite having played for half an hour with 10 men after Giovanni Simeone was sent off for two yellow cards in the space of five minutes.

Lautaro tore off his jersey and raced the entire length of the field to celebrate in front of the Inter fans in Riyadh, followed by his joyous teammates.

It was Inter's third straight Italian Super Cup victory although the first in its revamped format. It used to be a one-off match between the Serie A champion and the Italian Cup winner but now includes the runners-up from both competitions.

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The final ended up being between the two winners as Serie A champion Napoli beat Fiorentina in their semifinal, while Italian Cup winner Inter defeated Lazio.

Inter's attention will now turn to more substantial matters, having fallen a point behind new Serie A leader Juventus, which has played a match more because of the Nerazzurri's time in Saudi Arabia.

Inter is also through to the Champions League last 16, where it will face Atletico Madrid. It finished runner-up in that competition last year.

Lautaro, who won the World Cup with Argentina in 2022, is also chasing the top goalscorer award in Serie A and leads with 18 goals in as many appearances.

For Napoli it was the most realistic chance of winning a trophy. Out of the Italian Cup and trailing Juventus by 21 points in the league, Napoli plays Barcelona in the Champions League.

It could also have been one of the last matches for coach Walter Mazzarri, with reports Napoli is set to meet with Jose Mourinho this week after the Portuguese coach was fired by Roma.

Inter had the better of the chances in the first half and Lautaro had a goal ruled out for offside.

Napoli improved after the break but the match changed on the hour mark when Simeone was sent off after he received a second yellow card for a foul on Francesco Acerbi - incensing Mazzarri, who yelled "shame" from the sidelines.

It was one of those nights for Marcus Thuram as the Inter forward had several golden opportunities but couldn't find the target.

The Inter siege finally paid off when Alexis Sanchez sent Benjamin Pavard down the right and the defender cut it back for Lautaro to stroke a low shot into the back of the net.

An incensed Mazzarri immediately walked straight down the tunnel and also appeared to be absent from the trophy ceremony.

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