Milan Starting 11:Maignan, Ballo-Toure, Romagnoli, Tomori, Florenzi, Kessie, Tonali, Krunic, Diaz, Messias, Ibrahimovic
Napoli starting 11: Ospina, Malcuit, Rrahmani, Jesus, Di Lorenzo, Anguissa, Demme, Lozano, Zieilinski, Elmas, Petagna
Milan: 0 Napoli: 1
Scorers: Elmas (5′)
After only their 2nd home defeat of the season, Napoli had their work cut out for them this evening. The team was facing an injury crisis, missing most of the key individuals responsible for their terrific start, but they did see a welcome return from Anguissa; his calming presence would be needed in midfield. Anything more than a loss would be a positive result for the Partenopei, who had lost 3 from the last 5 games. Milan were facing some form problems of their own, as well as losing their key centre back Kjear for the season. It was 4th vs 2nd in a match that promised to be eventful.
The first goal came right away, the away side earned a corner, and a simple cross to an open Eljif Elmas was all that it took for the Macedonian to head the ball into the back of the net.
The Rossoneri would try to respond with a strong header for Ibrahimovic strafing just wide of the net. The 40 year old would look to take advantage of the lack of Koulibaly in the Napoli lineup.
The game remained tense, but slowed down as the teams dug in. The match seemed to have some bite as Toure cynically took down Malcuit to stop a counter-attack.
The next Milan chance came from their captain Romagnoli, whos 30ft volley flew just wide. But it was a warning sign to Napoli that they were getting closer.
Napoli, did look like they could do some damage. Lozano was industrious down the right, however he seemed to leave his shooting boots at home with no end product in the 1st half.
As it stood at the break, Napoli were moving into second going equal on points with MIlan.
Milan were on the front foot from the get go, a quick counter led to a sharply driven shot from Zlatan whicht would have nestled in the top left corner if not for the quick reflexes of Ospina.
It took a last ditch block from Tomori to stop Malcuit’s cross from finding Lozano. Napoli were starting to work themselves back into the game.
It was clear the players were tiring as play started to become more open. Messias was able to run the length of the Napoli half to create his opportunity, cutting in on the right and firing just over the bar.
Petagna was the next player to miscue, after another good run and cross from Malcuit, the stocky Italian could only fire the ball wide. It probably wasn’t a coincidence that this was the last contribution from the striker. His strength and hold up play was swapped for the pace and technique of Mertens.
Milan seemed to be turning up the tempo in the final 15 minutes of the match. The substitutions of Giroud and Salemakers seemed to bring an intensity to Milan as they looked for an equaliser.
It was almost a disastrous mistake which could have caused Napoli’s demise. A sliced clearance from Anguissa actually sent the ball back into the box and into Ibrahimovic’s path. The striker however failed to convert.
The remaining minutes were very terse for Napoli fans as any clearance seemed to go straight back to the Milan side.
Controversy struck in the 89th minute with what initially seemed to be a last gasp goal for Milan, with Kessie stroking the ball into the goal. However, Var was called into play as a floored Giroud was ruled offside in the build up.
In the 96th minute, the final whistle was blown and Napoli managed to get a season defining result from the fortress of the San Siro.
A crippled Napoli team, with a lot of effort and some luck also, weer able to leave with all three points and a 2nd place position.