#NerazzurriClassics – When Lothar Matthaus Winning Goal Vs Napoli Led Inter To 13th Scudetto

#NerazzurriClassics – When Lothar Matthaus Winning Goal Vs Napoli Led Inter To 13th Scudetto
December 14, 2020 18:00
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The 1988-89 Serie A campaign, had a very promising start for the Nerazzurri. Despite back-to-back disappointing seasons under Giovanni Trapattoni, the team continued to show faith in him and strengthened the team in the summer transfer window.

Left-back, Andreas Brehme and box-to-box midfielder Lothar Matthaus were signed to reinforce key areas on the team. The departure of Alessandro Altobelli forced the goal scoring duties to be spread among Aldo Serena and new comers Ramon Diaz and Lothar Matthaus.

The investment in the squad proved to be vital and paid immediate dividends as the team found themselves at the top of the league when second place Napoli side came to play Inter at San Siro in round thirty.

With a 7 point advantage over Napoli in second place and 10 points left to play for going into the game, the Scudetto was on the line for Inter who could secure the title with a win against Partenopei at the San Siro.

The Nerazzurri went into the match in superlative form, winning ten out of last twelve matches and conceding only one goal while scoring nine in four games leading up to the match against Partenopei. On the flip side, Napoli were desperately holding onto their title hopes as they were looking to close the gap against league leaders.

Despite starting their season in fantastic form, keeping pace with Inter earlier on, however after losing Diego Maradona to injury mid-season had dropped key points against mid-table sides by drawing five of their last ten matches.

With Maradona fully healthy and available for the clash at San Siro, they were ready to fight till their last breath in the Scudetto race.

Earlier on in the match, Nerazzurri had a nervous start, as Napoli moved the ball around Inter penalty box with confidence. They created few chances for their leading goal scorer Careca, who took number of venomous shots at Zenga’s goal.

Nerves showed up in Inter’s attack as well, when lead striker and Capocannoniere Aldo Serena and Ramon Diaz both missed point-blank shots to give their side the crucial early lead.

Inter were winning the midfield battle and managed to keep a clean sheet at the back, despite their efforts, the game remained in balance.

Inter created more scoring opportunities of the two sides. As half-time was approaching, this started looking like one of those games, where the ball just won’t go into the net. Napoli kept pushing the ball to Careca and Maradona to create scoring opportunities any way possible.

At the thirty-six minutes mark, Careca chested down a pass from the back and turned and took the long range shot on the volley and struck it beautifully in the top left corner of the post, leaving no chance for Zenga to save it.

Trapattoni and the Inter faithful at San Siro were on the edge of their seats with nervousness as everyone hoped for a second half turn around.

When play resumed in second half, it was more of the same. Napoli looking more confident of the two sides, moving the ball around with quick passes and not allowing Inter to create many opportunities in attack.

Copyright: imago/Kicker/Liedel
Guiseppe Bergomi (li.) & Lothar Matthäus

However, roll of the dice, finally dropped in favor of the home side. Nicola Berti scored after his shot took a huge deflection from Napoli midfielder Luca Fusi’s foot.

The cross from Ramon Diaz, originally intended for Matthaus, fell short of it’s intended target and received by Nicola Berti who struck it on the volley to score the tying goal. The pressure visibly lifted off all players and supporters alike and everyone started believing again in the dream to secure the Scudetto after nine years break.

The game was far from over, as Napoli continued to fight back to keep their season alive and came close to taking the lead yet again as Careca’s left footed shot ricocheted off the bar.

With both teams vying for the go-ahead goal, the game picked up pace with end-to-end action. As the game was winding down and seemed destined for a draw, Inter won a free-kick right outside the penalty box.

With both free-kick specialists in Brehme and Matthaus standing over the ball, Napoli defense lined up the wall. Brehme’s free-kick was defended by an onrushing Maradona who safely deflected the kick.

However, the Napoli defenders started running before Brehme had kicked the ball giving Inter another go of the free-kick. In the second attempt, Matthaus surprised everyone and struck a driven free-kick underneath the wall and into the bottom left corner of the goal, giving Inter the go-ahead goal.

Inter held on to win the game 2-1 at home, and secured their thirteenth Scudetto with four games left in the season. Trapattoni had finally ended the nine year title drought for the Nerazzurri, as the team finished a fantastic season with only two losses and going undefeated at home.

By Bilal Mirza

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