December 17, 2017 / 4:09 AM / a month ago

Soccer: Napoli back on top after Inter lose unbeaten record

MILAN (Reuters) - Inter Milan suffered an unexpected first league defeat of the season on Saturday, going down 3-1 at home to midtable Udinese, and were knocked off the top of Serie A by Napoli after they won by the same score at Torino.

In the day’s other game, AS Roma missed a second-half penalty but still beat Cagliari 1-0 with a stoppage-time goal by Federico Fazio, awarded after a consultation with the video assistant referee (VAR).

VAR was also used at the San Siro to award a second-half penalty to Udinese which Rodrigo De Paul converted in what proved to be the turning point as Inter were finally beaten in their 17th game of the campaign.

The referee initially signalled a goal kick but changed his mind and gave handball against Davide Santon after consulting the VAR.

Inter’s defeat opened the door for Napoli to move back to the top of Serie A with 42 points from 17 games, two clear of Inter. Roma’s win took them level on 38 points with third-placed Juventus, who visit Bologna on Sunday.

Napoli captain Marek Hamsik equalled Diego Maradona’s club record of 115 goals as his side raced to a 3-0 lead after half an hour, suggesting that their recent scoring troubles are behind them.

After failing to score in their last two league games, Napoli quickly refound their touch when Kalidou Koulibaly headed them in front after four minutes.

Jorginho sent Piotr Zielsinki clear of Torino’s defence for the second after 25 minutes and Hamsik fired home from Dries Mertens’ pass to finish off a flowing move on the half hour.

Andrea Belotti pulled one back for Torino just after the hour.

CLOSE RANGE

Soccer Football - Serie A - Inter Milan vs Udinese - San Siro, Milan, Italy - December 16, 2017 Udinese’s Rodrigo De Paul scores their second goal from the penalty spot REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

Udinese’s win over Inter was their third in four games under coach Massimo Oddo who replaced Luigi Delneri last month, lifting them clear of the danger zone and up to 11th.

Udinese struck first when Kevin Lasagna scored from close range from Silvan Widmer’s cross in the 14th minute but Mauro Icardi levelled one minute later, the Argentine’s 17th league goal of the season.

De Paul put Udinese back in front and Inter nearly levelled again when Milan Skriniar headed against the bar. Inter also claimed a penalty when Miranda went down in the area but the referee decided it did not even merit a consultation with the VAR.

Slideshow (5 Images)

Inter were always vulnerable on the counter and Udinese settled the match when Antonin Barak scored from close range after Jakub Jankto burst down the flank and sent over a low cross.

“There’s sorrow like with all defeats,” said Inter coach Luciano Spalletti.

“We’re not used to it anymore so there’s even more sorrow. But in the end we brought it on ourselves because we weren’t able to control the ball, we made errors and we were timid in our decision making.”

There were few thrills at the Stadio Olimpico until early in the second half when AS Roma forward Edin Dzeko went tumbling under a challenge by Cagliari goalkeeper Alessio Cragno.

The referee initially booked Dzeko for diving but, after consulting the VAR, rescinded the yellow card and gave a penalty -- only for Diego Perotti to see his effort saved by Cragno.

Little else happened until four minutes into stoppage time when Cragno tried to punch away a cross but the ball hit Fazio’s chest and ricocheted into the goal.

Roma celebrated but were stopped in their tracks as the referee checked with the VAR for possible handball by Fazio before confirming the goal after a two-minute delay.

Writing by Brian Homewood in Bern; Editing by Toby Davis

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