A tired and depleted AC Milan side were defeated by Napoli on Sunday evening, with the visitors departing San Siro with all three points thanks to a second-half strike from Politano. It was this solitary goal that settled what was a balanced encounter, with Coach Gattuso’s side now ramping up the pressure on the incumbent top four. Meanwhile, it was an abrupt step back for a fatigued Rossoneri who came into the game off the back of Thursday’s Europa League excitement at Old Trafford. One also cannot ignore Milan’s long list of absentees; however, what remains is a tough defeat at a crucial point of the season. The team’s reaction will be crucial during the next two fixtures before the break. The first of which is the return leg against Manchester United on Thursday (21:00 CET), while the second is a trip to face Fiorentina in the league on Sunday (18:00 CET). Ante Rebić will be missing for the match after tonight’s red card, with courage and determination needed from the rest of his teammates.
CHECK OUT THE PHOTO GALLERY FROM AC MILAN V NAPOLI
It was a fragmented start to the match but Milan were still able to threaten on two occasions going forward. The first chance fell to Leão who forced an early save from Ospina, while it was then Çalhanoğlu who curled a right-footed effort narrowly wide soon after. It was then Napoli’s turn to attack Gigio’s goal, with the Rossoneri shot-stopper keeping out attempts from Insigne and Zieliński respectively. The visitors created another good opportunity in the 29th minute, with the Polish midfielder shooting just wide from a dangerous position. Leão responded four minutes later by forcing Ospina into action.
The opening stages of the second half saw Napoli score the game’s only goal, with Politano finishing off a crisp counter-attack in the 49th minute. As the Rossoneri pressed for an equaliser, Napoli then nearly bagged a second as Gigio kept out a fierce left-footed strike from Ruiz. Coach Pioli responded with a triple change, bringing on Saelemaekers, Díaz and Rebić. The Croatian subsequently teed up Leão with a great ball in the 65th minute but the attacker was unable to make sufficient contact. Milan maintained the pressure and a free-kick from Tonali in the 70th minute led to a flick-on header from Rebić that was kept out once again by Ospina. Drama ensued in the 86th minute as the referee consulted VAR for a Milan penalty after contact from Bakayoko on Theo; however, the penalty was not awarded. Rebić was duly sent off for dissent, while a late chance for Díaz went begging.
AC MILAN V NAPOLI
AC MILAN (4-2-3-1): G. Donnarumma; Dalot, Tomori, Gabbia, Hernández; Tonali, Kessie (67' Meïte); Castillejo (60' Saelemaekers), Çalhanoğlu (60' Díaz), Krunić (60' Rebić); Leão (79' Hauge). Subs.: A. Donnarumma, Tătărușanu; Kalulu, Kjær. Coach: Pioli.
NAPOLI (4-2-3-1): Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Maksimović, Koulibaly, Hysaj; Demme (80' Bakayoko), Ruiz; Politano (80' Mario Rui), Zieliński (75' Elmas), Insigne; Mertens (59' Osimhen). Subs.: Contini, Meret; Costanzo; Lobotka, Zedadka; Cioffi. Coach: Gattuso.
Referee: Pasqua from Nocera Inferiore.
Goal: 49' Politano (N).
Booked: 25' Maksimović (N), 69' Di Lorenzo (N), 86' Hernández (M).
Sent off: 92' Rebić.
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