Napoli head coach Walter Mazzarri warned his side cannot afford any more slip-ups as they look to kick-start their campaign against Monza.

The Partenopei return to action after the Christmas break looking to avoid a third straight Serie A defeat with a lengthy injury list.

Brazilian defender Natan is the latest player facing a spell out because of a dislocated shoulder while midfielder Stanislav Lobotka has a cracked rib.

Forwards Victor Osimhen and Matteo Politano are also both missing through suspension following their dismissals in the defeat at Roma.

Mazzarri, though, maintains the squad will just have to cope as best they can as the defending champions aim to close on the top four.

“It’s a huge game against Monza. We need to play with attacking impetus and also strike the right balance,” Mazzarri told a press conference.

“We can’t have any more slip-ups. We need to get back to our brilliant selves and restore our confidence levels.”

Mazzarri, who returned for a second spell at Napoli in November, added: “We have deserved two or three more points from my first cycle back in charge based on how we have performed and how we have played on the front foot.

“That is my only regret, but I’m here to help the lads out and I’m confident we can improve.

“When we’re playing well, we usually impose our game on everyone. We’re also improving defensively.

“Unfortunately, we’ve paid for some mistakes which have led to us dropping points. The aim is to have attacking threat while striking the right balance and remaining solid.”

Mazzarri feels Napoli are not far away from turning promising performances into positive results.

“I can see that mentally this team has fire on the inside and is acquiring the sort of spirit that I like. We need to channel that energy in a positive way,” he said.

“I am sure that as soon as a few things go our way, we will see a Napoli side that never gives up and shows what we are capable of – that is what will show we are on the right path.”

Monza coach Raffaele Palladino feels his side must be “hungry” to get themselves back on track following their own run of three defeats from the past four games.

“We want to put in a great performance,” said Palladino, who returns to his hometown club. “We face the Italian champions who have great players.

“I saw a good week (of training). We worked well and we want to score points. We have to start doing well again. I want a team hungry for results.”

Lorenzo Pellegrini and Romelu Lukaku steered Roma to a 2-0 win against nine-man Napoli in an ill-tempered Serie A clash at the Stadio Olimpico.

Matteo Politano saw red for Napoli shortly after the hour mark, with substitute Pellegrini putting the home side ahead 10 minutes later.

The visitors then lost Victor Osimhen after he was shown a second yellow card, with Lukaku sealing the win for Roma in the sixth minute of stoppage time. Roma move ahead of Napoli and into sixth place.

Both sides had a point to prove following recent disappointing defeats – Roma suffering a 2-0 loss at Bologna last weekend, while Napoli were dumped out of the Coppa Italia earlier this week following a 4-0 thrashing at home to Frosinone.

Following nine changes for their Coppa Italia exit, defending champions Napoli were back to full strength for their visit to the Italian capital, with marksman Osimhen leading the line.

Roma manager Jose Mourinho was able to call on Lukaku with the on-loan Chelsea forward returning from a ban after he was sent off in his side’s 1-1 draw against Fiorentina a fortnight ago.

Lukaku was involved in the first real chance of the game when his hold-up play allow allowed Edoardo Bove to strike at the Napoli goal, but the young midfielder’s dipping effort clipped the bar.

Bove was in the thick of it moments later when his shot was superbly charged down by Napoli stopper Alex Meret.

Then came a flurry of bookings with Mourinho not far from the action. The former Chelsea and Manchester United manager was involved in a touchline spat with Napoli’s Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and even found himself in referee Andrea Colombo’s book.

Following the break, Napoli started to grow into the game but their bid for victory was derailed when Politano was shown a straight red card with 66 minutes gone.

As Napoli looked to hit Roma on the counter-attack, Nicola Zalewski pulled Politano’s shirt and the winger kicked out in frustration at his opponent. Colombo did not hesitate in showing Zalewski a yellow card before pulling out a red for a stunned Politano.

The visitors were suddenly on the backfoot and Roma’s breakthrough quickly arrived.

Pellegrini, introduced by Mourinho only five minutes earlier, took advantage of a fluffed shot by Stephan El Shaarawy to score on the turn with virtually his first kick of the game.

Napoli were then reduced to nine men after Osimhen was shown a second yellow card with four minutes of normal time remaining before Lukaku got on the scoresheet with the last kick of the night.

Napoli striker Victor Osimhen has signed a new deal with the club.

The 24-year-old has extended his stay with the reigning Serie A champions until 2026.

Osimhen had been linked with a move away from the club, with Arsenal, Chelsea and Real Madrid just three of the clubs reportedly interested in signing the prolific forward.

After beginning his senior career with Wolfsburg, the Nigeria international arrived in Naples from Lille in July 2020 and has been a key cog up front.

Osimhen topped the Serie A goalscoring charts last season with 26 in 32 appearances as Napoli secured the Scudetto by 16 points and scored 31 goals in all competitions.

He has endured an injury-hit start to the current campaign, forcing him to miss some games, but has still managed to score seven goals in 12 league games, with his last coming against Cagliari last Saturday.

Jose Mourinho has warned his Roma side to beware the threat posed by defending Serie A champions Napoli ahead of their clash at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday night.

Walter Mazzarri’s men suffered an embarrassing 4-0 defeat to Frosinone in the Coppa Italia in midweek to add to a testing campaign which has left them 14 points off the pace.

Despite last week’s loss at Bologna which ended a run of five domestic games unbeaten, Mourinho’s men will leapfrog Napoli in the table if they manage to claim all three points.

But Mourinho warned the visitors are still much the same side who swept to the title last season, with the exception of star man Kim Min-jae – a summer signing for Bayern Munich – and departed coach Luca Spalletti.

Mourinho told a press conference: “They’ve had problems in terms of a few results, but not the quality of their players.

“They’re the same team that won the league last year, without Kim. Out of the starting 11 that won them the Scudetto, 10 are still playing.

“They have so many options in every position and they’re a top team. We know what the difficulties are. Every time we’ve faced Napoli, the result has always gone down to the wire.”

Napoli had shown signs of turning their season around in recent weeks after ending a run of two straight losses by reaching the next stage of the Champions League then beating Cagliari last week.

But Tuesday’s home loss, which saw Frosinone inflict most of the damage after Napoli had introduced stars including Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia off the bench, left Mazzarri perplexed.

“Perhaps the first-choice players are not accustomed to coming off the bench and absurdly we did better with the lads who don’t play as often,” Mazzarri told Italian media.

“We need to reflect on that. It’s a pity – you can lose in football, but not 4-0. We looked like everyone was just doing their own thing.

“I hope this can be a lesson for the future, as from tomorrow we must all look each other in the eye and change gear.”

Serie A champions Napoli were dumped out of the Coppa Italia following a shock 4-0 defeat to Frosinone at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

Napoli had been the favourites to reach the quarter-final stage, but second-half strikes from Enzo Barrenechea, Giuseppe Caso, a Walid Cheddira penalty and Abdou Harroui saw Frosinone record a famous victory.

Walter Mazzarri’s side have endured a turbulent defence of the Serie A championship they secured after a 33-year wait, falling 14 points adrift of leaders Inter Milan with just 16 matches played.

But after ending a three-game losing run to secure their place in the knockout stages of the Champions League place with a 2-0 win against Braga, and then recording a 2-1 victory against Cagliari in the league, Napoli will have expected to take a third win on the bounce against a Frosinone side who were making their debut in the round of 16.

Mazzari made nine changes to the side which beat Cagliari last weekend, while Frosinone boss Eusebio Di Francesco retained only three players from the side that lost at Lecce.

Giovanni Simeone appeared to have given Napoli the lead nine minutes before the interval only to see his goal disallowed by VAR after Jesper Lindstrom was adjudged to have handled the ball in the build-up.

After the interval, Napoli continued to probe for the opener – with Mario Rui’s free-kick striking the woodwork – but the Italian champions were suddenly on the back foot when Barrenechea headed home a corner shortly after the hour mark.

Frosinone then doubled their lead when Giovanni Di Lorenzo’s misplaced pass was intercepted by Caso, who made no mistake in slotting past Napoli goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini with 70 minutes gone.

The home supporters were left stunned as the six-time winners were suddenly facing up to another early exit from the Coppa Italia after their defeat at this stage of the competition by Cremonese last season.

And it would only get worse for Mazzarri’s men when Matias Soule was fouled by Di Lorenzo in the area with Cheddira, on loan from Napoli, scoring Frosinone’s third of the night from the penalty spot before Harroui netted a fourth deep into stoppage time.

It sealed Frosinone’s first ever win against Napoli, and a quarter-final against either Juventus or Salernitana.

Napoli manager Walter Mazzarri hailed a “thrilling” match in prospect after his side were drawn against Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League.

The Serie A champions will face their LaLiga counterparts in February after progressing from a tough group which contained Real Madrid, Braga and Union Berlin.

It took a victory on the final matchday against the Portuguese side before qualification was confirmed.

And their reward is a meeting with a Barca side who last played at this stage of the competition in 2021 having been eliminated in the group stage in each of the last two seasons.

Mazzarri replaced the sacked Rudi Garcia in November with two games of the group to go and helped salvage their campaign after dropped points against Real and Union had placed their future in the tournament in jeopardy.

“I said after the match against Cagliari that all the teams who have qualified for the round of 16 are strong and therefore any draw would be difficult,” said Mazzarri.

“This one against Barcelona is especially difficult. For Napoli it will be a thrilling prospect.”

Mazzarri could turn to youngsters Giovanni Simeone, Alessandro Zanoli and Gianluca Gaetano for Tuesday’s Coppa Italia last-16 meeting at home to Frosinone, with the opportunity to rest more established players against the side sitting 13th in Serie A.

Striker Victor Osimhen is one of the players likely to sit out, with either Simeone or Giacomo Raspadori coming in to deputise.

Piotr Zielinski, Mathias Olivera and Eljif Elmas all missed the recent meeting with Cagliari, but Mario Rui could return.

Frosinone boss Eusebio di Francesco called on his side to be more clinical in front of goal against the champions after they went down 2-1 to Lecce on Saturday.

“We have to be a little more concrete and, when the team plays interesting patterns, it’s good,” he said.

“But we have to be more determined and aggressive in front of goal.”

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia bagged the decisive goal as Napoli returned to winning ways in Serie A with a 2-1 victory over Cagliari.

A frustrating first half was littered with opportunities for Napoli, with their best effort coming from Amir Rrahmani’s header, but the visitors came close through Tommaso Augello and Adam Obert.

The game suddenly kicked into life in the second half with three goals in six minutes when Victor Osimhen fired the hosts ahead, but Leonardo Pavoletti quickly equalised before Kvaratskhelia had the final say to net Napoli’s winner minutes later.

Victory ensured Walter Mazzarri’s side bounced back from two consecutive league losses and moved fourth in the table, while Cagliari continue to linger above the relegation zone.

Napoli had a chance in the opening minutes from a free-kick as Stanislav Lobotka chipped the ball to Kvaratskhelia on the right, who fired wide from a tight angle.

The hosts dominated the early stages as Osimhen tested Simone Scuffet twice and they broke from a Cagliari corner but Matteo Politano’s shot was deflected for a corner.

The winger then had an effort scooped up by Scuffet as the hosts continued to push for the opener, coming close again when Edoardo Goldaniga stuck out a leg to block Osimhen’s shot.

Cagliari had a great chance in the 21st minute when a corner was cleared as far as Augello, who fired from the edge of the box but the ball was deflected just wide of the post.

Napoli came close again in the 29th minute as Politano floated a free-kick to Rrahmani on the right, but his header smashed off the far post before being cleared and they were frustrated again when Jens Cajuste cut in from the right and fired over.

Cagliari had a brilliant opportunity from the break as Antoine Makoumbou launched a fantastic cross-field pass to Nahitan Nandez, but Alex Meret did well to rush forward and make the save.

The visitors had a chance just seconds into the second half but Obert’s effort was held by Meret and Napoli’s frustrations continued when Frank Anguissa’s powerful effort sailed over the bar.

The hosts eventually found the opener in the 69th minute when Osimhen’s header was palmed away by Scuffet and despite his best efforts, the ball smashed off the post and into the net.

Napoli’s lead was shortlived as Cagliari captain Pavoletti came back to haunt his former club, bundling in Zito Luvumbo’s cross from close range to level just three minutes later.

However, Napoli suddenly retook the lead in style in the 75th minute as Osimhen kept the ball with some superb skills before passing low across the six-yard box for Kvaratskhelia to smash home at the far post.

Politano then had a goal ruled out for offside before the visitors had a great chance to level in the final minutes when Alberto Dossena headed over the bar.

Walter Mazzarri feels Napoli can use qualification for the knockout stage of the Champions League to kickstart their Serie A camapign.

The Partenopei host Cagliari on Saturday in sixth place, well off the pace in their Scudetto defence.

Since marking his return to Napoli a month ago with victory at Atalanta, Mazzarri has seen his side lose back-to-back Serie A games against rivals Inter and Juventus.

However, after beating Braga 2-0 on Tuesday night at Stadio Maradona to progress behind Group C winners Real Madrid, Mazzarri believes his side can move forwards as he prepares to face one of his former clubs.

“Now another match awaits us that we must try to win against Cagliari, and also to get answers on the growth and path we are on,” said Mazzarri, who left Cagliari just before the end of a disappointing 2021-2022 campaign.

“We are heartened by this result (against Braga) and also aware that Napoli can still express themselves at high levels.”

Napoli captain Giovanni Di Lorenzo maintains the squad are fully behind Mazzarri.

“Certainly we have to grow and improve. We have been seeing positive signs since the new cycle with Mazzarri began,” defender Di Lorenzo said, quoted on Napoli’s official club website.

“We are working hard and we want to give everything for this shirt because the season is still long.”

Napoli look set to be without midfielder Elif Elmas, who did not take part in Friday’s training session as he manages as thigh problem.

Cagliari boss Claudio Ranieri is looking to build some momentum of their own in a bid to pull clear of the relegation zone after beating rivals Sassuolo with two goals in stoppage time at Unipol Domus on Monday night.

Ranieri, though, knows just what challenge is in front of them as the 72-year-old returns to one of his former clubs.

“Mazzarri has given the team back its dimension, with combinations at a thousand-miles per hour, great players and the ability to solve problems from one moment to the next,” Ranieri said.

“We will have to play a great game and have to come in at our best right away, which we failed to do against Sassuolo.”

Ranieri told a press conference: “I hope the last victory will give us even more awareness, knowing that we have to be focused at all times to make up for any shortcomings we may show.

“If we all help each other and make a little effort to focus, then we will still improve.”

On Friday afternoon, Cagliari announced forward Eldor Shomurodov was set for a spell on the sidelines. Scans confirmed a fracture of the second metatarsal in his right foot following a “blunt trauma” sustained during training.

Former Napoli midfielder Antonio Juliano has died at the age of 80, the Serie A side have announced.

Juliano made more than 500 appearances in all competitions for the Partenopei from 1962 to 1978, helping the club win the Coppa delle Alpi, the Coppa Italia and the Anglo-Italian League Cup.

He retired in 1979 after a season with Bologna and returned to Napoli as sporting director, a role in which he played a key part in the signing of Diego Maradona in 1984.

Former Napoli owner Corrado Ferlaino recalled how the deal was secured in an interview with CBS Sports last year.

“Before my arrival I had sent two of my men to Barcelona to talk with Maradona, his agent and the club,” Ferlaino said.

“Antonio Juliano, a former Napoli player who at the time was a member of our board and with him I sent a businessman as well, Dino Celentano, a friend of mine and a person I could trust for the negotiations.

“The two of them had the task to find an agreement with both Barcelona and the player. We arrived late in the evening and the final signature on the contracts arrived around midnight.”

During his playing career Juliano won 18 caps for Italy and was part of the winning side in the European Championship in 1968, but made just one World Cup appearance as a substitute in the 1970 final defeat to Brazil.

“Today is one of the saddest days in Napoli’s history and for our supporters,” a statement on Napoli’s official account on X – formerly known as Twitter – read.

“Antonio Juliano, who was Mr Napoli for two decades, has passed away. If you are not familiar with him, it is worth finding out more about him and what he represented in our city. Rest in peace, Totonno.”

Napoli put an end to a jittery start under new coach Walter Mazzarri as their 2-0 victory over Braga confirmed their place in the Champions League knockout stage.

Three successive defeats since Mazzarri took over from Rudi Garcia may have knocked confidence but the hosts knew they needed only a draw to prevent their opponents snatching second place in Group C from them.

They could even have afforded a one-goal defeat, as their head-to-head record was superior courtesy of the 2-1 win in Portugal, but a ninth-minute Serdar Saatci own goal was the perfect morale boost for a side which had won just once in the last six games.

A quickly-taken throw allowed Matteo Politano to break into the right side of the penalty area and his low cut-back was intended for Victor Osimhen.

However, Saatci’s awkward attempted to block the cross only diverted the ball into the ground, up onto the underside of the crossbar and down over the line.

Stung by the early goal Ricardo Horta forced Alex Meret to tip a shot onto the crossbar, while Braga goalkeeper Matheus Magalhaes also denied Piotr Zielinski at his near post.

Osimhen had flown in from Morocco, where he had won African Player of the Year, and he celebrated beating Mohamed Salah to the award by adding Napoli’s second in the 33rd minute.

Natan, a centre-back filling in on the left, surged forward and having found space in the penalty area crossed for the Nigeria international.

The ball was behind Osimhen but his attempted drag-back diverted it goalwards via his standing leg from six yards and although Matheus got a hand to it he could not prevent it crossing the line.

Braga’s goalkeeper was the busier as he tipped over Politano’s left-footed curler and denied Osimhen a second.

Horta hit the foot of a post with 11 minutes to go but with Real Madrid coming back to beat Union Berlin late on, Braga’s consolation prize was a place in the Europa League.

Napoli boss Walter Mazzarri has warned his side not to rest on their laurels as they look to nail down a spot in the Champions League knockout stages, despite knowing they could lose their final group game and still progress.

The Italians are handily placed behind Group C winners Real Madrid, sitting three points and three goals clear of their Portuguese opponents Braga ahead of Tuesday’s clash in Naples.

Having also won the reverse fixture, the Serie A outfit know they can win, draw or even go down by a single goal in order to reach the last 16, but Mazzarri expects them to be on their game.

Since marking his return to the club a month ago with victory at Atalanta, he has overseen three successive defeats, with Real, Juventus and league leaders Inter Milan presenting a fiercely difficult sequence of opponents.

And that means finding their feet is crucial, regardless of the equation in front of them.

“I don’t want to even say that we can go through, even if we lose with a one-goal margin,” he told Sky Sports Italia.

“We are not a team that can make these calculations, but a team that must play its own game, have a little more balance than the last few outings and only think about this. If we were to do something different we would just have a bad game.

“It is fundamental to get through the round, without giving anything away, and play with solidity. Against Braga it is essential to regain certainties.”

Mazzarri will make a late decision on the role of striker Victor Osimhen, with the Nigerian having flown to Marrakech to be present for Monday’s African footballer of the year ceremony.

The six-goal top-scorer is making a swift return to rejoin his team-mates, but Mazzarri will need to judge whether or not to name him in the starting XI following his exertions.

“He’ll be back tomorrow, I’ll talk to him and we’ll see if he’ll be in a position to start from the first,” he said.

“The Africa Cup of Nations will take place soon and we will have to do without him then, but we have two important players like (Giacomo) Raspadori and (Giovanni) Simeone who have already demonstrated that they are important in the past.”

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has been struggling with illness over recent days and could be a doubt, while Braga have Nigou Siakate, whose own-goal handed Napoli the win in the earlier fixture, suspended.

While the visitors face a stiff challenge trying to leapfrog their opponents, they have similar leeway of their own over Union Berlin.

A draw would be sufficient to send them into the Europa League play-offs and will take that spot even if they lose, providing Union do not upset Real.

Juventus moved top of Serie A, for 24 hours at least, with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over reigning champions Napoli.

Federico Gatti headed the only goal of the game early in the second half to take his side a point above Inter Milan, who face Udinese at San Siro on Saturday evening.

Manager Massimiliano Allegri had challenged his players to rectify the club’s wretched recent results against Napoli, Juve having lost five of their last seven league meetings including a 5-1 thrashing in January.

And the Bianconeri boss got what he wanted after the home side weathered an early storm at the Allianz Stadium to record their 11th win of the season.

Napoli started brightly and were inches away from taking the lead in the ninth minute, Matteo Politano’s curling shot leaving Wojciech Szczesny flat-footed but agonisingly grazing the outside of the post.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia then failed to even hit the woodwork as he wasted a glorious chance shortly before the half-hour mark.

Victor Osimhen superbly controlled a long clearance on his chest and drew both Juventus central defenders out of position before squaring the ball to Kvaratskhelia, who took a slightly heavy touch before blazing his shot over the bar as Szczesny dived at his feet.

Szczesny was in the thick of the action again 10 minutes later as he produced a stunning reflex save from Giovanni Di Lorenzo, who had been gifted a clear sight of goal after Bremer inadvertently headed the ball off team-mate Gatti.

The flag did go up for offside as Juve struggled to clear their lines, but that took nothing away from the brilliance of the former Arsenal goalkeeper as the sides headed into the interval on level terms.

Parity lasted just five minutes of the second period, Andrea Cambiaso providing a perfect cross from the right for Gatti to head home from just five yards out.

Szczesny looked to have undone all his good work in the 71st minute when he hit a careless clearance straight to substitute Eljif Elmas, who headed the ball straight to Osimhen to fire home, only for Osimhen to be correctly ruled offside.

Napoli piled on the pressure in the final minutes as Juventus defended deep, but Giacomo Raspadori’s low shot was comfortably saved by Szczesny at the foot of the post.

Walter Mazzarri has now won just one of his first four games in charge since returning to Napoli for a second spell, a run of results which leaves his side fifth in the table and 12 points behind Juve.

Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri has challenged his players to rectify the club’s wretched recent results against rivals Napoli to move top of the Serie A table.

Juve have lost five of their past seven league meetings with the reigning champions, including a 5-1 thrashing in January, but are favourites for Friday evening’s clash at Allianz Stadium.

The in-form Bianconeri sit second in the table and will climb above leaders Inter Milan for at least 24 hours by registering an 11th victory of the season.

Fifth-placed Napoli are struggling to mount a title defence and, having last month reappointed former boss Walter Mazzarri after sacking Rudi Garcia, slipped 11 points adrift of Inter following a 3-0 home loss to them on Sunday.

“Tomorrow will be very tough,” Allegri told a press conference.

“Napoli stayed in the game against Inter until the second goal and we’ve only beaten them once in our last seven meetings – that’s something we need to put right.

“They’re a dangerous side away from home and have picked up 17 points on the road already.”

Juventus are just two points behind Inter, with whom they drew 1-1 on November 26, following a nine-match unbeaten run.

Allegri wants a minimum of six points from Juve’s next five fixtures to ensure the club reach the halfway point of the campaign in a stronger position than last term.

“This is a six-pointer – we have five games left before we reach the midway point of the season and they’ll all be difficult,” said Allegri, whose side finished a disappointing 2022-23 campaign in seventh position.

“Our target is to finish the first half of the campaign with more points than we did last term, when we had 38.

“We hope to achieve our target but we mustn’t take it for granted.

“Part of this job involves dealing with the pressure but we have to remember the league doesn’t finish tomorrow. There’s still a long way to go.”

Mazzarri, who initially managed Napoli between 2009 and 2013, beat Atalanta 2-1 in the first match of his second spell before the resounding loss to Inter.

The 62-year-old hopes his team can kick-start a revival by beating one of their fiercest rivals.

“Juventus v Napoli is a match that we know well because of the special sensations it generates and the importance of two teams that have been protagonists of the championship in recent years,” he told a press conference.

“We are playing against an opponent who is doing very well and there is little to add about the depth of the match.

“We go there as Italian champions and we want to highlight the progress that the boys are making.

“If we look at the squads, I don’t think there is as much of a difference as the league table says. This is also true compared to Inter.

“Unfortunately in football there are also moments and this is not a brilliant period for Napoli, especially in relation to the great last season.

“In football sometimes it doesn’t take much to make a change, it’s a question of trust but also of luck.

“There are moments which are going badly but a positive episode can change the wind.”

Inter Milan moved back to the top of Serie A in convincing style with a 3-0 win at defending champions Napoli.

Simone Inzaghi’s side had been knocked off the summit by Juventus’ victory at Monza on Friday, but emphasised their title credentials after being set on their way by a stunning goal from Hakan Calhanoglu.

Nicolo Barella doubled Inter’s lead just after the hour mark and Marcus Thuram made certain of all three points five minutes from time.

The win takes Inter two points clear of Juventus and 11 in front of Napoli, who have now taken just seven points from a possible 21 at home.

The home side in fact made a bright start and could have gone ahead in the third minute, only for Yann Sommer to produce a brilliant save from a shot from Eljif Elmas which looked destined for the top corner.

Both sides were happy to shoot from distance and Calhanoglu went close at the other end with a left-footed effort from outside the area before the visitors briefly thought they had broken the deadlock.

Thuram played a delightful one-two with Lautaro Martinez before firing a shot across Alex Meret and into the far corner, only to see the flag correctly go up for offside.

Inter were forced into an early change when Stefan de Vrij suffered a thigh injury and had to be replaced by Carlos Augusto, the reshuffle possibly allowing Elmas to get free in the area moments later to bring a good save from Sommer at his near post.

There was nothing Sommer could do about Matteo Politano’s long-range effort after 36 minutes however, and the Switzerland international was relieved to see the ball cannon back off the crossbar.

When the opening goal finally arrived it proved well worth the wait, Denzel Dumfries heading a deep cross back to Barella to flick the ball into the path of Calhanoglu, who struck a sumptuous low volley which swerved away from Meret and nestled in the corner of the net.

Napoli striker Victor Osimhen appealed in vain for a penalty early in the second half after tangling with Francesco Acerbi just inside the area, the ball then breaking for Khvicha Kvaratskhelia to bring a good save from Sommer.

But it was the visitors who found the all-important second goal shortly after the hour mark as Barella collected a firmly-struck pass from Martinez and slalomed past two defenders before slotting the ball into the bottom corner.

Osimhen flashed a header narrowly wide as Napoli tried to get back into the game but Thuram settled matters five minutes from time as he turned in a low, driven cross from substitute Juan Cuadrado.

Victor Osimhen’s suitors are running out of time to capture the Napoli hitman as president Aurelio De Laurentiis has revealed the Nigerian is close to agreeing a new contract.

Osimhen, 24, has lit up Serie A since arriving in Naples from Lille in July 2020, with his greatest achievement so far scoring 31 league goals as the Azzurri clinched a long-overdue Scudetto last season.

Arsenal, Chelsea and Real Madrid are reportedly among the clubs keen to fire up their forward lines with the recruitment of Osimhen, who remains hot property despite enduring an injury-ravaged 2023-24 campaign so far.

While a future move to the Premier League or LaLiga is still entirely possible, De Laurentiis on Saturday revealed Osimhen is on the verge of agreeing a new deal at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

He told Gazzetta ahead of Sunday’s clash with Inter Milan: “With Osimhen we are at the stage of signing the contract, the one that has been left pending since last summer.”

Napoli’s other superstar is Kvicha Kvaratskhelia, who has made a huge impression since making his unheralded switch from Dinamo Batumi last year.

De Laurentiis is even less concerned about the Georgia winger departing Napoli, though, adding: “Kvaratskhelia still has a four-year contract, what’s the point of asking about him now? Let’s try not to be too negative.”

On the showdown with Inter, which continues a baptism of fire for new boss Walter Mazzarri, De Laurentiis said: “We don’t have a left-back. Two are out injured.

“Then we have a new coach, to whom we have given a huge responsibility, because he has had to immediately face Atalanta and Real Madrid. Now we have another tour de force as we play Inter and then Juventus.

“Are two days enough to prepare for Inter, without two full-backs? It seems a bit difficult to me. Then five days to prepare for Juventus… we have to lay all our problems out on the table so we can be objective about them.”

Alessandro Zanoli will face a late check before the match while left-backs Mario Rui and Mathias Olivera are out for three weeks and two months respectively. On Inter’s treatment table are defenders Benjamin Pavard and Alessandro Bastoni.

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