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It´s like playing against aliens - Inter´s Spalletti hails Napoli players after draw

21 Oktober 2017 23:55

Inter coach Luciano Spalletti has described Napoli players as "aliens" and lavished praise on his side after they put an end to the Partenopei's 100 per cent record in Serie A this season with a hard-fought 0-0 draw at Stadio San Paolo.

Samir Handanovic, in particular, was in sparkling form, producing an outstanding double save in the first half and then denying Dries Mertens in injury time to preserve a valuable point for the visitors.

The result maintains Inter's unbeaten start to the league season and Spalletti was quick to hail his side for keeping at bay a team that had scored 26 goals in eight games prior to Saturday's clash.

"These players deserve compliments, because you keep telling us we are fortunate – and we are happy about that – but my real fortune is that I get to work with these players," he told Italian TV after the game. "You don't seem to realise it yet, but that is a great fortune.

"We played a very good game tonight, but it could also have been played better. Napoli did very well, as at times it feels like you are playing against aliens, as they do everything one-touch football and flick it up, over, behind. They have this possession and high-paced football.

"We are learning, but have already made important steps forward and frankly could've won it.

"We suffered on a couple of occasions, but bring home a valuable result, knowing we could've done better.

"We have to assimilate quickly, because it's a real fight to be up there in the top four."

Handanovic's heroics ended Napoli's run of 13 consecutive league wins and ensured it was the first time they had failed to score since a 2-0 home defeat to Atalanta in February.

Napoli head coach Maurizio Sarri, though, was not surprised by the Slovenian's eye-catching display and heralded him as one of the finest in Europe.

"Handanovic is an extraordinary goalkeeper, at the moment one of the best in Europe, so it was only normal he'd be extraordinary tonight," he said.

"The team played consistently, with a wonderful first half in terms of pressing and winning back possession in their own half.

"We made some adjustments to see if we could keep that pressure going. We kept 75 per cent of territorial domination against a very strong opponent, so I think we did well."

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