Inter's unbeaten start ends with 3-1 defeat to Udinese
By DANIELLA MATAR
Dec. 16, 2017
MILAN (AP) — Inter Milan's unbeaten start to the season was brought to an unlikely end Saturday as the Nerazzurri were defeated 3-1 at home by Udinese and went on to lose top spot in Serie A.
Inter captain Mauro Icardi had canceled out Kevin Lasagna's opener but Udinese put in an impressive second-half performance and took the lead through Rodrigo De Paul's penalty before Antonin Barak sealed the result.
Napoli moved two points above Inter and back into the lead after winning 3-1 at Torino, with Marek Hamsik matching Diego Maradona's scoring record.
"We're obviously disappointed to have lost," Inter coach Luciano Spalletti said. "Maybe it hurts a bit more because it's been a bit of time since our last defeat and we're not used to it anymore.
"It's nothing to do with tiredness. The players seemed physically fine to me even in the second half when we made a lot of mistakes. The difference was we played the ball badly in the second half and made a lot of silly mistakes."
Udinese moved 10 points clear of the relegation zone as its revival under new coach Massimo Oddo continued. Oddo has won three league matches after losing to Napoli in his opening game.
"What has changed since my arrival? No one has a magic wand. We do our work but then it's the lads who go out onto the pitch," Oddo said. "There's still a lot of work to do but we are taking giant steps.
"This team never gives up and always gives everything ... I think that winning at San Siro against Inter, which was first and unbeaten, is more due to how good my team was and not that Inter played badly."
Udinese took the lead in the 14th minute when Silvan Widmer cut inside from the right, dribbled in the area and rolled the ball across for Lasagna to tap in.
However, Inter was back on level terms within a minute as Icardi volleyed home Antonio Candreva's cross.
Inter dominated the rest of the first half and came close to taking the lead on several occasions but Oddo turned things around at the break, and it was Udinese which was stronger in the second period.
The visitors almost took the lead immediately after the restart but Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic somehow managed to deflect Lasagna's effort over the bar from point-blank range.
Icardi also came close to doubling his tally but he headed a corner over the bar.
Minutes later Udinese was awarded a penalty for handball — after video review showed the ball had not crossed the line before Widmer's cross was handled by Davide Santon.
De Paul sent his spot-kick straight down the middle to give Udinese the lead in the 61st.
Milan Skriniar almost leveled shortly after but his header came off the bar.
Udinese wrapped up all three points 13 minutes from time when Barak finished off a brilliant counterattack by heading in Jakub Jankto's cross.
Marek Hamsik matched Diego Maradona's all-time record of 115 goals for Napoli.
Hamsik reached that tally after 30 minutes on Saturday, scoring the third goal in Napoli's 3-1 win at Torino.
Dries Mertens controlled the ball in the area and picked out Hamsik, who volleyed into to top right corner.
It has taken the Slovenia midfielder 11 seasons and 477 appearances to reach that tally, while Maradona, who was a forward, set that mark in 259 games in seven seasons with Napoli.
Kalidou Koulibaly had headed Napoli into the lead in the fourth minute and Piotr Zielinski doubled the visitors' tally in the 25th.
Andrea Belotti netted a consolation for Torino shortly after the hour mark.
Federico Fazio scored a stoppage-time goal to help fourth-place Roma beat Cagliari 1-0 and remain four points behind Napoli.
The Argentine knew little about the goal, however, as Cagliari goalkeeper Alessio Cragno attempted to punch clear a free kick and it ricocheted off Fazio's stomach and into the back of the net.
Cragno had earlier saved Diego Perotti's weak penalty after the goalkeeper had fouled Edin Dzeko.
Video review was used on both incidents.
More AP Serie A coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/SerieA