League leaders Napoli had started the new year 2023 with an eight-point lead. After a Milan attack in the run-up, only five points remained after the first match in January. So the Partenopei had to relinquish their special status as unbeaten leaders – against Inter, because of Dzeko.

Lukaku and Dzeko in Inter’s attack and the Argentinean world champion Lautaro Martinez on the bench – and in addition goal star Osimhen and magic mouse Kvaratskhelia on Napoli’s side: The first big top match of the Serie A year had everything to offer in terms of names alone. However, the unbeaten league leaders took it easy on matchday 16.

The hosts from Milan were different: coach Simone Inzaghi’s team started briskly, played steeply and looked for an early goal. And they found it by a hair’s breadth: Lukaku crossed precisely to the left in front of the box to the incoming Dimarco, who, however, missed the 1:0 from a very acute angle (4th minute).

Darmian misses the deserved lead

After the Napoli defence got a better grip on the brawny Lukaku and his colleagues and the game offered hardly any further highlights for a while, the crowd was amazed in minute 26. Lukaku and Dzeko, who had the presence of mind to lay off for Darmian from a turn, produced a great move – and yet again missed the deserved 1:0. The ball flew over after a volley.

And the southern Italians? Well, Luciano Spalletti’s team was still a bit in hibernation offensively, only Zielinski (30th) and Zambo Anguissa (45th) were allowed to come close. Otherwise, it was noticeable that Osimhen was sidelined by his strong opponents like Acerbi or Skriniar and could not make a stab in the first 45 minutes. But his counterpart Lukaku had another chance (41st).

Mkhitaryan, Dimarco, Dzeko – Goal

The second 45 minutes offered more of the same: The defence of the home Lombards was rock solid, hardly allowed anything to go wrong and continued to consistently deny Osimhen. Only in minute 52 did the attacker have a chance to show his mettle, but he was unable to poke the ball past Onana.

On the other side, the better Inter continued to play the game – and could now reward themselves: After an outstanding opening by Mkhitaryan and a great cross by Dimarco, the incoming Dzeko only had to head in from close range – 1:0 (56.). The 36-year-old Bosnian was extensively celebrated by his teammates and fans – shortly after his goal and also after the final whistle. This header was to be the goal of the evening because Napoli hardly scored anything in the following.

At least Kvaratskhelia showed his dribbling skills once but sent the ball to the outside of the net (61st). And SSC joker Raspadori, who should have had the best chance for his colours, failed with his concealed finish due to a strong Onana reflex (90th). And that was it: Napoli, who had previously won eleven games in a row, lost a Serie A game for the first time this season, lacked a lot offensively and also lost ground to their rivals Milan. The reigning champions had won 2-1 at US Salernitana hours earlier, reducing the gap to Napoli too “only” five points. Inter, meanwhile, anchored themselves at the top.