ABBADIA SAN SALVATORE (Siena) – It’s possible to win three championships in one
season. Inter’s youth academy has pulled it off: a Scudetto for the Primavera, one
for the Juniores-Berretti, and just now, another for the Giovanissimi Nazionali
who defeated Napoli 4-1. Salvatore Cerrone’s lads, all born in 1997 with two 98’s
added (therefore 14 and 15 year olds), deservedly concluded the year with a victory
in the final. It is the sixth title for this Nerazzurri age group and, at the
Giovanissimi level, Inter is the team that has won the most from 1984 to today.
FIRST HALF. After one minute and 37 seconds Inter went ahead; on the right flank Arcuri released Cassani and the forward attacked the space to send a low cross to the far post that Taufer swiftly met to bury into the net. 0-1. Three minutes later Taufer saw his goal disallowed for offside when his long-range shot touched a team-mate in an offside position in front of goalkeeper Mennella.
Taufer, the youngest of Cerrone’s lads (born in 1998), was unstoppable. On 9 minutes he beat two men in a tight space to serve Bonazzoli, whose effort was put out for a corner by Mennella. Inter were functioning in complete harmony, with everyone working for the cause, defending as a unit, winning balls and countering. In another chance two minutes later Cassani found Zonta, who was blocked at the edge of the box. Zonta tried again in the 19th minute but his effort went over the crossbar.
Napoli, who made their presence felt after 40 seconds on a shot from Setola, were fighting back. Then on 22 minutes Tchaoule won the ball and fed Cassani, who flew past several light blue shirts as if they were traffic cones and crossed centrally for Bonazzoli, whose header wasn’t quite enough to double the Nerazzurri’s lead.
Napoli won the first corner after 28 minutes and, from the right, Federico De Simone’s header among the melee went over the crossbar. On 31 minutes the bomber Bonazzoli made it 0-2 when he stole the ball, beat two men and smacked the ball past Mennella with his left.
Strangely, the second goal caused the Nerazzurri’s defence to relax a bit. A long pass from midfield found De Iorio, who surprised the Inter central defenders before being brought down by the onrushing De Gregorio. The referee whistled and pointed to the spot, and Di Iorio stepped up to make it 1-2.
SECOND HALF. Things got underway with Inter once again taking control. A powerful shot from Tchaoule in the 42nd minute forced Mennella to save for a corner. Then another attempt from Bonazzoli sailed over the bar. Next a free kick from Dimarco brought a save out of the Napoli keeper. Muro’s team was most of all aiming to defend, and on a surface that was not of the greatest quality, the tactic began to frustrate the Nerazzurri.
Compared to the first half, Inter were less organised and less precise in handling the ball. Then Taufer reignited; taking advantage of a throw-in, he sent a ball into the heart of the box that the ever-present Bonazzoli tucked away. 1-3. Then Taufer again had Mennella coming out for a low save. The Nerazzurri once again recovered their harmony and took control of the match. Then, on an assist from Tchaoule, Bonazzoli notched his hat-trick with a lovely left-footer to make it 4-1. Now it was celebration time for Cerrone’s lads: congrats to the champions of Italy!
Napoli 1-4 Inter (HT: 1-2)
Scorers: Taufer 2, Bonazzoli 31, Di Iorio 34 (pen), Bonazzoli 58, 63.
Napoli: 1 Mennella; 2 Grillo, 3 Iovane, 4 Otranto, 5 A. Esposito, 6 Granata, 7 Bifulco, 8 G. De Simone, 9 De Iorio, 10 Setola, 11 F. De Simone.
Unused subs: 12 Lamarra, 13 Selva, 14 De Masi, 15 D’Ursi, 16 Manna, 17 Napolitano, 18 Lombardi, 19 L. Esposito, 20 Fontanella.
Inter: 1 Di Gregorio; 2 Arcuri (Gazzotti 68), 3 Dimarco, 4 De Micheli, 5 Della Giovanna, 6 Bernardi, 7 Cassani (Didiba 60), 8 Tchaoule, 9 Bonazzoli (Mitta 68), 10 Taufer (Opoku 68), 11 Zonta (Brambilla 52).
Unused subs: 12 Bourmila, 14 Bondioli, 16 Scienza, 18 Panatti.
Officials: Antonio Lacagnina (Caltanissetta), Lipizer (Udine), Rossini (Padova), Forneau (Rome).