Italian league — serie aSunday, April 27, 2014
Higuain leaves field on a stretcher
Argentine striker suffers injury in Napoli’s scoreless draw with Inter
Gonzalo Higuaín faces a race to be fit in time after being taken off on a stretcher four minutes from time following a tackle on Marco Andreolli. The Argentina forward has heavy bruising on his ankle.
ROME — Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuaín left the field on a stretcher four minutes before the end following a thumping challenge from Marco Andreolli on the edge of the box just as the Argentine striker was set to shoot in the team’s 0-0 draw with Inter.
The club wrote on its Twitter account that Higuaín strong bruise and doctors will make some tests today.
“He has bruising to the ankle and we’ll have to keep an eye on his condition over the next few days,” said coach Rafael Benítez. “We need to wait and see, we still don’t know anything.”
The Argentina forward, who has 20 goals in all competitions this season, left the field with pain, but his World Cup hope is not at risk.
Napoli missed a chance to secure Champions League soccer next season with the goalless draw at Inter in an entertaining encounter yesterday.
Benítez’s third-placed Napoli has 69 points and extended its lead over Fiorentina, in fourth, to eight points with three games to play.
Benítez’s men created plenty of chances but failed to capitalize on their superiority, particularly in the second half.
José Callejón was the worst culprit, volleying wide from Dries Mertens’s pinpoint through ball in the 13th minute with the goal at his mercy, while Gokhan Inler struck the inside of the post with nine minutes left.
“I could have finished the match. It wasn’t easy but I was in front of (Inter keeper Samir) Handanovic. It’s a shame,” said Inler.
Vincenzo Montella’s Fiorentina, which take on Napoli in next Saturday’s Italian Cup final, crushed relegation-threatened Bologna 3-0 thanks to a double from Juan Cuadrado and a deflected strike from Josip Ilicic.
Inter, which created chances of their own in a frantic first half, is fifth on 57 points. It is four points behind Fiorentina and six ahead of AC Milan, which lost 2-0 at AS Roma on Friday, and Parma which travels to Cagliari today.
Napoli and Inter came roaring out of the blocks and the home team had marginally the better of the opening exchanges.
Mateo Kovacic did well to spin away from tight marking and force a good save from Pepe Reina with a drilled shot from just outside the area with 11 minutes gone.
The best chance of the first half fell to Callejón who timed his run perfectly to meet a beautiful pass from Mertens only to screw his volley wide from 12 metres.
Napoli turned the screw in the second half and would have come away with the three points had it not been for solid Inter defending and some bad luck in front of goal.
Yuti Nagatomo did well to block Higuaín’s 50th-minute shot when he looked set to score while seconds later Mertens flashed Jorginho’s lobbed pass across goal and through the legs of Inter defenders only to see the ball roll wide.
Inter looked dangerous when they ventured forward, with Nagatomo hitting a shot into Reina’s legs from a tight angle.
However, if Inler’s shot had gone in rather than crashed against the post Walter Mazzarri’s Inter could have had no complaints.
“We had chances and lots of possession against a very good Inter team,” said Benítez. “We created and controlled the game — a draw against them is a good result but we could have done even better. Sometimes we’re too selfish with the ball but today we were looking for a teammate too often instead of shooting.”
Mazzarri was particularly pleased with his Inter team’s performance in the opening 45 minutes.
“We played brilliantly in the first half,” he said. “I was disappointed that we didn’t score because we played really well. If we had scored in the first half when we should have, we could have won the match.”