The penalty for Romelu Lukaku was enough to give Inter Milan a 1-0 victory at the San Siro on Wednesday against 10-man Napoli and transfer the hosts within a Serie A leader AC Milan point.
Until kick-off, only one point and one position separated the two teams, and the game was determined when David Ospina conceded a spot-kick in the middle of the second half that Lukaku had converted.
In contrasting fashions, the two captains made an impact, as Napoli skipper Lorenzo Insigne was sent off after the penalty award for defiance and Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic made some crucial interventions to keep his side in front.
But Napoli pressed hard with 10 men for an equalizer and Andrea Petagna was denied a late leveler when in stoppage time, his shot rattled the post.
The win leaves Inter second, one point behind Milan’s leaders, while Napoli is fourth with 23 points.
After his side’s disappointing early exit from the Champions League, where they finished bottom of their division, the pressure was mounting on Inter coach Antonio Conte, but he has now overseen a string of five wins in a row in Serie A.