Napoli moves up to second, Inter stumbles
Napoli moves up to second, Inter stumbles
Napoli are within two points of leaders Juventus thanks to Marek Hamsik’s second-half goal which moved them above an Inter side undone by Nicola Sansone’s fine late strike.
Juventus have 32 points from 14 games ahead of Napoli on 30 with Fiorentina and Inter level on 28 points after the Milan side missed the chance to narrow the gap with a poor display.
Parma had most of the possession in the first half but failed to make it count with Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic comfortably dealing with a tame Amauri shot and also keeping out attempts from the lively Jonathan Biabiany and Gabriel Paletta.
With Parma snapping at their heels and closing down the midfield, Inter struggled to find space despite the best efforts of seasoned campaigner Esteban Cambiasso, whose 36th-minute header was cleared off the line by Jaime Valdes.
The visitors had a bit more bite after the break but Parma held their nerve and continued to cut off the supply lines to Inter’s ineffective front pair Diego Milito and Rodrigo Palacio.
Parma took a 75th-minute lead when Sansone ran 40 meters, easing his away from two defenders before calmly slotting the ball past Handanovic with a neat right-foot shot.
Inter immediately set about trying to find an equalizer, with substitute Coutinho, on for Ricardo Alvarez, linking up well with Milito before testing Parma keeper Antonio Mirante.
Parma, who have struggled to find consistency but remain unbeaten at home, showed plenty of team spirit and concentration to cope with Inter’s constant pressing toward the end leaving the visitors frustrated and, at the final whistle, deflated.
The win takes Parma up to seventh on 20 points.
Napoli, without suspended striker Edinson Cavani and the injured Goran Pandev, made hard work of beating Cagliari, with Hamsik’s 73rd minute goal enough to earn the three points.
The visitors looked flat at times although young striker Lorenzo Insigne went close to scoring either side of the half-hour mark, hitting the post and later dragging a shot wide.
Cagliari appealed for a penalty when Alessandro Gamberini upended midfielder Daniele Conti, who then directed a Thiago Ribeiro corner against the post just before the break.
Napoli were on the back foot for much of the second half but scored when Juan Zuniga ran into the box in the 72nd and found Hamsik who struck the ball past keeper Michael Agazzi, sparking Cagliari protests that the Slovakian was offside.
“It was a difficult game, but we did really well,” Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri told Sky Italia. “We suffered a bit during the second half, but I have to compliment my team.
Addressing his side’s chances of winning Serie A, he added: “I’m really not thinking about the title. We’ll see where we are at the end of the season.”
Juan Antonio Pizzi is still the right man to lead Saudi Arabia, says former Green Falcons boss
- Saudi Arabia's 1996 Asian Cup-winning coach Nelo Vingada backs Pizzi to lead side into next year's Asian Cup.
- Green Falcons face Egypt on Monday with both looking to land their first point in Russia.
MOSCOW: Saudi Arabia’s 1996 Asian Cup-winning boss Nelo Vingada has called on the country’s football authorities to keep faith with head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi despite a disappointing showing in Russia.
The Green Falcons still have to face Egypt in the final match of Group A, but have already been eliminated following a 5-0 defeat at the hands of Russia in the opening game on June 14 in Moscow and a 1-0 loss to Uruguay five days later in Rostov.
“I was expecting a little more from Saudi Arabia to be honest,” Vingada told Arab News.
“In the first game they were disappointing but a first game of the World Cup is always hard and especially when it is the first game and everyone is watching. Plenty of teams at the World Cup did not play well in the first game.
“But playing Russia in Russia and to lose is what you would normally expect from Saudi Arabia and while it was far from positive, people should not get carried away.
“The game with Uruguay was much improved in terms of organization and defense and it showed more of the character of the Saudi Arabia team.”
In the past, coaches have been axed following disappointing World Cup campaigns but with the 2019 Asian Cup just seven months away, the Portuguese tactician would prefer to see some stability rather than yet another new man in the dugout.
“The Asian Cup is in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia will be one of the contenders,” Vingada said. “It is better to stay with the same coach. He has a vision of how he wants the team to play and he now knows the players and the players know him.”
Constant changing has not helped Saudi Arabia in the past and Pizzi himself has been in the job just seven months.
“The problem is not the coach. He should not be changed, that has happened before but results did not improve, but the mentality has to change.”
Despite that Vingada, who has coached Egyptian club giants Zamalek and the country’s Under-23 team, believes that the Pharaohs, also eliminated, will prevail when the two regional rivals meet on Monday in Volgograd.
“This is an important game for pride, the players and the countries. It is still the World Cup. Egypt have a little more quality I think and have Mohamed Salah too.”
The Liverpool striker has been recovering from a shoulder injury sustained in the Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid in late May and missed the opening game 1-0 loss to Uruguay. He played in the second game, a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Russia, scoring from the spot late in the match to earn a consolation.
“Any coach would take Salah because he can win you games but overall Egypt have been a little disappointing and a little unlucky.”
The bad luck came when conceding a last-minute goal to Uruguay and a fluke own goal to get Russia off the mark. “Uruguay are a tough team and it is no shame to lose 3-1 to a Russia team at home who are playing to qualify for the next round. It showed that European and South American teams still have a little more quality.”
“Egypt just made some mistakes at the wrong time but this is football and without mistakes there are no goals.”
Ahead of the clash against Egypt Pizzi confirmed his intention to stay as Saudi Arabia boss, looking to build on the seven months he has had to imprint his ideas on the team ahead of the Asian Cup.