GENOA: Sampdoria’s Japan’s defender Maya Yoshida (second right) celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal during the Italian Serie A football match between Sampdoria and Inter Milan at the Luigi Ferraris Stadium in Genoa yesterday. – AFP

GENOA: Inter Milan’s perfect start to the defense of their Serie A title ended yesterday when they were held to a 2-2 draw at Sampdoria but still moved up to second place. The champions are two points behind leaders Napoli – who had beaten Juventus a day earlier – after failing to beat a spirited Samp side in Genoa following two wins in their opening two fixtures of the campaign.

Federico Dimarco and Lautaro Martinez twice put Simone Inzaghi’s side ahead at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris but strikes from Maya Yoshida and Tommaso Augello earned a draw for Roberto D’Aversa’s Sampdoria, who sit 13th with two points. “It’s a game we should have and could have won,” Inzaghi told DAZN. “We have to look at what happened, because when a team like ours goes ahead twice we really should win.”

Dimarco gave Inter the lead against the run of play in the 18th minute when the academy product lashed home a powerful free-kick, and Martinez almost doubled the away side’s lead on the half-hour mark when his low shot was pushed away by Emil Audero. However, Samp drew level almost immediately through Yoshida, whose weak shot following a corner clipped Edin Dzeko and rolled past Samir Handanovic.

Martinez did have his second goal of the season just before the break thanks to brilliant play from Italy midfielder Nicolo Barella, whose pinpoint cross was expertly volleyed home by the Argentina forward. However, Augello earned Samp a point with a special volley of his own almost straight after half-time when he met Bartosz Bereszynski’s cross with a powerful left-footed strike that left Handanovic motionless.

Inter had good chances to take the points through Edin Dzeko, Hakan Calhanoglu and Joaquin Correa but it was Samp who came closest to snatching a win with 15 minutes left. Denmark winger Mikkel Damsgaard managed to sneak behind the Inter defence and let off a low shot which beat Handanovic, but just as it looked to be crossing the line Danilo D’Ambrosio rushed back to clear the ball and save his team’s blushes. Inter host Real Madrid at the San Siro on Wednesday in their first Champions League group match of the season.

Struggling Juve
Kalidou Koulibaly made sure that Juventus’ miserable start to the season continued on Saturday with the late winner in a 2-1 triumph for Napoli that put them top of Serie A. Senegal captain Koulibaly knocked home the winning strike from practically on the goal line with five minutes to go at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona to maintain Napoli’s 100 percent start and move them three points clear in first place.

Matteo Politano levelled near the hour mark after Alvaro Morata had put a depleted Juve ahead early on. Koulibaly, 30, won the match for Napoli after reporting for training immediately following his return to Italy from World Cup qualifying wins for his country over Togo and Congo. After netting the winner he snatched a camera from a pitch-side photographer to take a snap of the celebrating fans behind the goal. Defeat for Massimiliano Allegri’s Juve meanwhile drops them down to 16th place in Italy’s top flight after a second straight defeat which leaves them with a single point from their first three matches.