Inter narrowed the gap at the top of Serie A as a dour 1-0 win over 10-man Napoli at San Siro on Wednesday was sealed by Romelu Lukaku’s penalty.
The Nerazzurri narrowed the advantage of the league leaders in the standings to one point thanks to Lukaku’s 73rd-minute spot-kick, with local rivals Milan held to a 2-2 draw at Genoa.
The Belgian striker was able to wrap up a fifth straight league win for Inter with a reckless challenge from David Ospina, and there seemed to be no way back for Napoli with Lorenzo Insigne seeing red for dissent.
Inter failed to close the game out however, until the post stopped Andrea Petagna winning a share of the spoils for Napoli, with Samir Handanovic making two major saves.
When Dries Mertens appeared to tweak his ankle while digging out a cross before the ball ran out of play and had to be replaced in the 16th minute by Petagna, Napoli was dealt an early blow.
Lautaro Martinez almost added to their woes within 30 seconds, but after Kalidou Koulibaly’s wayward pass, his shot on the spin skidded wide, allowing Nicolo Barella to feed the striker.
Napoli enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, but with Piotr Zielinski volleying wide and Roberto Gagliardini delivering the only shot on goal before the break with a tame header, opportunities were few and far between.
After controlling a brilliant pass from Insigne, which forced Handanovic to make his first save of the game in the 69th minute with an improvised flick, Hirving Lozano volleyed over.
When Ospina was considered to have fouled Matteo Darmian in the box and Insigne’s protests resulted in him being sent off, the game turned in Inter’s favor.
In the bottom-left corner, Lukaku tucked the penalty, but Inter needed Handanovic and a bit of luck to make sure they didn’t throw away the win late on.
Handanovic holding out Matteo Politano-on loan from Inter at Napoli-and Giovanni Di Lorenzo in the 92nd minute before Petagna discovered the base of the upright.