ROME, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- Napoli came back from their UEFA Champions League exit with a 4-2 win over Inter at home on Sunday.
Gonzalo Higuain put the hosts ahead with his 12th goal of the season, then Esteban Cambiasso levelled before Dries Mertens and Blerim Dzemaili struck in the space of two minutes to stun Inter.
Yuto Nagatomo pulled a goal back just before half-time, but Ricky Alvarez was sent off for a second bookable offence as Mazzarri' s side suffered their first defeat in 10 games.
The win was wrapped up by Jose Callejon' s late effort, while Samir Handanovic magnificently saved former Inter striker Goran Pandev's penalty in the game's dying embers.
Victory for Napoli moved them just two points behind second-placed Roma, who play Milan on Monday, and gave Benitez a win against one of his former employers.
Benitez claimed that he was not surprised to see his players performed so well following their Chamgpions League exit.
"The Champions League exit was done with heads held very high, so I expected this performance. Clearly it is different, we played against a great side and did very well," he said.
Inte head coach Walter Mazzarri did not disguise his absolute disdain for referee Paolo Tagliavento, especially with regards to the Alvarez's dismissal.
"There was a series of terrible mistakes that changed the game. When we were in control and 3-2 down, Alvarez was harshly sent off. The first card was harsh too, as he tripped up," he said.
"I saw far worse challenges that were worthy of a card. I think with 11 men against 11 we could' ve got back on level terms," he said.
"Perhaps Tagliavento is unlucky with us, as we' ve had two defeats all season and both were with Tagliavento making many mistakes. The other loss was against Roma with a non-existent penalty. We' re unlucky with him, it keeps happening to us. Maybe Tagliavento is just out of shape," he added.