MILAN, Dec 26 (Reuters) - Substitute Lautaro Martinez scored in stoppage time to give Inter Milan a 1-0 win over Napoli who had two players sent off in a stormy finish to their Serie A match on Wednesday.
Second-placed Napoli dropped nine points behind leaders Juventus, who earlier drew 2-2 at Atalanta, while the gap between them and third-placed Inter was cut to five.
The game got off to an extraordinary start when, from the kickoff, the ball was played to Inter forward Mauro Icardi who spotted Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret off his line and produced a looping shot which bound off the crossbar.
After that, the game only really flared into life again after Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly was sent off in the 81st minute in bizarre circumstances.
The Senegalese was booked for a foul on Matteo Politano — who waved a pretend yellow card in the air — and then immediately given a second yellow for sarcastically applauding the referee.
Napoli nearly grabbed a last-minute winner when Lorenzo Insigne’s shot was saved by Samir Handanovic and Piotr Zielinski’s shot from the rebound was cleared off the line by Kwadwo Asamoah.
Instead, it was Inter who celebrated when Martinez turned in Keita Balde’s low cross from near the penalty spot.
Tempers flared again when Insigne was sent off following a clash with Balde although replays showed that the Inter player started it by tweaking Insigne’s ear. (Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Pritha Sarkar)