Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Ebrahim Sadien On April - 15 - 2013

Serie A Matchday Review: AC Milan vs Napoli

Flamini scored and was sent off as AC Milan were held to a 1-1 draw by Napoli at the San Siro.

Dubbed as the play-off for second place, Milan looked to close the gap on Napoli. The Partenopei began the match with a four point lead over Milan and had last won at the San Siro in April 1986.

Giampaolo Pazzini started for the Rossoneri as Mario Balotelli began his three match suspension. Stephan El Shaarawy was surprisingly left out in favour of Robinho and Kevin Constant was also handed a start at left back. For Napoli, Goran Pandev partnered Edinson Cavani upfront and Blerim Dzemaili retained his place in Walter Mazzarri’s now settled starting lineup.

Milan settled early and began the livelier of the two teams. As early as the fourth minute Morgan De Sanctis was forced into an excellent save from a deflected long range effort from Kevin-Prince Boateng. Christian Zapata then headed over from a corner and Boateng volley wide stretching to reach cross from Constant. The Rossoneri eventually found some reward for their early pressure on the half hour mark. Some good incisive build up play in the final third culminated with the ball breaking for Mattieu Flamini, whose low drive from outside the box found the bottom corner.

Milan’s lead however lasted on three minutes. Marik Hamsik broke down the left and intelligently slipped in Pandev who easily finished past Christian Abbiati. To make matter worse for Milan, Boateng who had been enterprising limped off with an ankle injury and was replaced by M’Baye Niang late after thirty six minutes. Napoli’s equaliser seemed to dent Milan’s confidence as the Partenopei ended the half the stronger team. In the final minute of the period Cavani collected the ball in the box and his chip was just about reached by Abbiati’s outstretched fingertips.

While Milan dominated the early period of the first half and Napoli found their feet in the latter stages, the second period was a rather dull affair. Neither team seemed prepared to take any risks in fear of losing the game. The only talking point of the second period was a reckless two footed challenge by Flamini which resulted in a red card on the seventy two minute mark. Mazzarri showed intentions of winning the game in the final fifteen minutes with a few attacking substitutions. His side was however unable to impose their one man advantage over Milan.

The 1-1 draw means Milan continue their unbeaten run to fourteen games in 2013. However two consecutive draws have now severely hampered their push for second place. Milan remain four points adrift from Napoli but also should be concerned with Fiorentina who lead the chasing pack four points back. Allegri expressed exactly this after this in his post-match comments: “Football is unpredictable so we will look over our shoulders, but also in front to Napoli. In any case, third place is a great objective considering how we started the season.”

Milan now look forward to a touch encounter against league leaders Juventus next weekend. Still without the suspended Balotelli, the Rossoneri will require an improved and more consistent ninety minute performance to keep the pressure on Napoli in their race for second.

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