During the winter break Serie A fans got to contemplate many things. How will Cassano do at AC Milan? What new signings will we see in the January transfer window? And how will Leonardo do at Inter Milan? The last question seems to be a little clearer after Leonardo made his debut on Inter Milan’s bench in their 3-1 win against Napoli.
It was a big test for Leonardo, having to face Napoli in his first match. The pressure of the San Siro weighed upon the new coach, the fans unhappy with the previous reign under Rafa Benitez. Yet Leonardo put out an organized and inspired side which scored just minutes into the match. A quick give-and-go between Thiago Motta and Stankovic, with the former spanking the ball diagonally into the bottom corner.
The San Siro went wild as did the players, celebrating after their good start to 2011. Yet Napoli’s response was quick, just minutes later Cavani had a goal disallowed because of an offside in the build-up, and then Napoli managed to score the equalizer. Pazienza snuck behind a distracted Inter defence on a corner, and he headed past a fumbling Castellazzi to make it 1-1.
But this Inter side is different from Benitez’s depressed group of injured players, Leonardo has truly inspired them. Cambiasso pops up with an opportune header in the 37th minute, putting Inter Milan in front. It was Maicon’s cross which was placed expertly on the Argentine’s head, and the Brazilian fullback had a strong game with the right wing his territory.
In the second half there was more of the same, with Inter not allowing Napoli breathing space. Ten minutes into the second half Thiago Motta bests himself with another beautiful goal. A pinpoint header from a corner, the ball perfectly thumped into the top corner for the final goal of the match. Inter held onto the match for their first three points of 2011.
While Inter Milan played well, Napoli allowed Leonardo’s side freedom in the midfield. Mazzari wasn’t happy on the sideline, and he was often found yelling at inanimate objects and colleagues. It’s an important win for Inter, and although they’re still 13 points from AC Milan at the top of the table, they have two games in hand to make up against Cesena and Fiorentina.
Is this a complete revival for Inter Milan? Will Leonardo be able to continue succeeding? Share your comments below!