Napoli Stages a Remarkable Comeback Against Milan

Napoli Stages a Remarkable Comeback Against Milan

AC Milan was in dire need of a boost following losses to Juventus and PSG. While Mike Maignan and Theo Hernandez returned from suspension, Malick Thiaw was serving a ban, joining the injured Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Samuel Chukwueze, Simon Kjaer, Ismael Bennacer, Marco Sportiello, and Mattia Caldara.

Victor Osimhen remained sidelined due to an injury sustained on international duty, with Andre Frank Zambo Anguissa only fit enough for a spot on the bench.

These teams faced each other four times last season, with Milan winning 4-0 in their previous encounter and subsequently eliminating Napoli from the Champions League quarter-final.

A shot from Yunus Musah took a deflection and fell into the path of Olivier Giroud, forcing Amir Rrahmani into a last-ditch block. However, Pierre Kalulu had to be substituted after just 18 minutes due to a muscular problem, and Marco Pellegrino made his Milan debut.

Nonetheless, Milan broke the deadlock as Christian Pulisic delivered a left-footed cross from the right, and Giroud timed his run perfectly to score with a glancing header. Alex Meret was only able to get a hand on the ball but couldn’t keep it out. It marked the veteran’s first goal in any competition since September.

Maignan took a significant risk when he ventured outside the box to make a tackle on Matteo Politano, and then Kvaratskhelia delivered a cross across the face of the goal, but Politano’s tap hit the side-netting.

This mistake proved costly, as Milan extended their lead with a very similar goal. This time, Davide Calabria’s cross from the right found Giroud, who held off Amir Rrahmani and nodded in from six yards.

Tijjani Reijnders should have done better, but he sent the ball over the bar on the first touch from Theo Hernandez’s cross. Giacomo Raspadori volleyed a Piotr Zielinski pull-back off target.

Milan threatened to score a third just before half-time, but Meret got down to smother Musah’s effort at the near post.

Napoli were struggling, and coach Rudi Garcia made three changes at half-time, introducing Giovanni Simeone, Leo Ostigard, and Mathias Olivera, while Pulisic was substituted due to a muscular issue.

It paid off, as Politano immediately got Napoli back into the game with a sensational solo effort. He flicked the ball over Pellegrino, cut inside Theo Hernandez, and smashed it into the roof of the net from a tricky angle with his left foot.

Politano then set up Giovanni Di Lorenzo, who went for goal, forcing Maignan to parry with his legs at the near post.

Maignan fumbled another Di Lorenzo cross that Napoli couldn’t capitalize on. Fikayo Tomori made a crucial header to prevent Simeone from scoring.

The pressure paid off, as Napoli completed the comeback, making it 2-2 with a magnificent Raspadori free kick. He curled it around the Milan wall into the near post, marking the first direct free-kick goal scored in Serie A all season.

Leao completed a give-and-go with Musah’s back-heel flick, drilling a low shot that forced Meret to make a save around the base of the post.

Giroud and Leao were both frustrated when they were substituted ten minutes from time. Napoli ended the game with ten men as Natan received his second yellow card for a late challenge on Romero.

Calabria nearly secured the victory for Milan in stoppage time, but his header found the wrong side of the net at the back post. Napoli had a significant opportunity with the last kick of the game, as Maignan used his legs to parry the Kvaratskhelia strike from close range.