Coppa Italia He pulls one goal clear of Hamsik
It’s Napoli who will meet Juventus in the final of the Coppa Italia, with Saturday night’s 1-1 draw earning them a 2-1 aggregate victory over Inter.
Dries Mertens was the hero and it’s a night he’ll remember forever as he bagged his 122nd goal for Napoli to become their all-time top goalscorer, pulling clear of Marek Hamsik’s 121.
Things had barely gotten underway by the time Inter opened the scoring in rather unusual fashion.
A Christian Eriksen corner with just two minutes played managed to find its way in at David Ospina’s near post, evading the head of Napoli’s No.22 Giovanni Di Lorenzo, suggesting that the Colombian still had some rust to rub off.
Inter were on top from there and Romelu Lukaku had a couple of chances around the half hour mark, but neither of his headers found their way to goal and Ospina started to warm up with a good stop on the second, in particular.
Antonio Candreva looked well-placed to give Inter an aggregate lead just before the break, but he tried to shoot himself despite Eriksen, Lautaro Martinez and Ashley Young all standing with their arms outstretched waiting for the Italian to tee them up.
Ospina, to his credit, had woken up and was well and truly back to his best, doing well to turn the shot behind with a strong left arm, but the winger’s decision had his teammates annoyed.
The resulting corner came to Ospina who set Lorenzo Insigne clear on the counterattack and the Neapolitan did what Candreva should have, squaring to his teammate Dries Mertens to level the score on the night and put Napoli into the driving seat.
Antonio Conte’s side had most of the ball as the second half wore on, but Napoli appeared happy to leave it with them and look to hit with another break.
As Lukaku’s legs grew heavier, Insigne attempted to curl in a second for the hosts midway through the second half, but his strike was tame and Samir Handanovic comfortably gathered.
Alexis Sanchez had only entered the frame when he came close to picking out the bottom corner.
The Chilean exchanged passes with Victor Moses – who had also just stepped onto the pitch – before sending a low effort across Ospina’s goal and wide of the post.
Ospina was busy again seconds later to turn away a powerful long-range freekick from Eriksen.
Piotr Zielinski tried his own luck from distance but his curling strike was always too far wide to trouble Handanovic.
Inter’s substitutes combined again as Sanchez backheeled to Eriksen who probably should have scored but was again denied by Ospina before Moses fired the rebound over.
The dying moments were played out on the edge of Napoli’s penalty area, but Gennaro Gattuso’s side did just enough to hold on and they’ll meet Juventus in Rome on Wednesday.