MILAN (Reuters) - Inter Milan and Napoli served up 78 minutes of dismal football before bursting into life to share four goals in a breathless final 12 minutes as they drew 2-2 in Serie A on Sunday.
Jose Callejon twice put Napoli in front, the second in the 90th minute, but Inter replied almost immediately each time, firstly through substitute Fredy Guarin and then Hernanes.
The second goal was a huge relief for Inter coach Walter Mazzarri, whose position has become precarious after two straight three-goal defeats, although the grizzled coach was not there to see it, having been sent from the touchline for dissent.
A spectacular own goal by Brazilian defender Rafael Marques, followed by a Keisuke Honda double gave AC Milan a 3-1 win at Verona while third-placed Sampdoria remain unbeaten despite throwing away a two-goal lead and drawing 2-2 at Cagliari.
Champions Juventus, who dropped their first points in a 1-1 draw at Sassuolo on Saturday, lead with 19 points from seven games, one ahead of AS Roma, who beat Chievo 3-0, also on Saturday.
Inter president, Indonesian business tycoon Erick Thohir, did little to ease Mazzarri’s worries in a pre-match interview, telling the Mediaset channel: “I believe in this project, but let’s see what happens in the next couple of games.”
Most of the match was sloppy and bad-tempered, with the players greeting almost every refereeing decision with howls of protest. Even when the game did come to life, it was courtesy of dreadful defending.
Callejon fired Napoli ahead in the 79th minute after Inter defender Nemanja Vidic obligingly headed a long throw-in straight into his path and Guarin replied three minutes later when he was left unmarked at a corner.
Napoli regained the lead when Callejon side-footed past Samir Handanovic after escaping the attention of the Inter defender only for Hernanes, completely unmarked, to reply with a header almost immediately to save Inter.
Milan were sent on their way when Marques, facing his own goal and under no pressure when he tried to hoof away Ignazio Abete’s cross, completely miskicked and sent a sliced volley whistling past his own goalkeeper Rafael in the 21st minute.
Honda burst clear and sent a curling finish past Rafael six minutes later, then ran onto Adil Rami’s through ball to prod home his sixth goal of the season after the break as Milan climbed to fourth with 14 points from seven games.
Nicolas Lopez scored Verona’s late consolation.
At Cagliari’s Stadio Sant‘Elia, Manolo Gabbiadini and Pedro Obiang put Sampdoria in the driving seat but the game changed when Fabrizio Cacciatore gave away a penalty, was sent off and Danilo Avelar converted for the home side in the 59th minute.
Cagliari took control and Marco Sau equalised with a low shot on the turn.
Richmond Boakye scored Atalanta’s first home goal of the season in their 1-0 win over Parma and promoted Palermo claimed their first victory of the campaign when a stoppage-time header from their Costa Rica defender Giancarlo Gonzalez gave them a 2-1 win over Cesena.
Filip Djordjevic scored his fifth goal in three games to set Lazio on the way to a 2-0 win at Fiorentina. The visitors wasted so much time that the referee added on eight minutes of stoppage time, during which Senad Lulic added the second.
Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Ian Chadband