With a goalkeeper other than the much celebrated Gigio Donnarumma, responsible for both goals conceded, Milan would probably have won in Naples closing any talk related to qualification in the Europa League. Instead, without the three points that would also have led to overtaking against Gattuso (for the first time against his former coaching team), the question remains at least theoretically open also to Sassuolo (minus four from the Rossoneri) and al Verona (minus six).
AC Milan scored first (Hernandez on 20 minutes), went under for Donnarumma’s two blunders and drew on a penalty by Kessie seventeen minutes from the end. The foul did it Bonaventure, entered ten minutes earlier, along with Leao, who replaced a smoky man Ibra (the almost forty years this time have weighed in a negative way). So Pioli played the end of the match with Rebic first striker (then Leao) and Saelemaekers (then sent off), Bonaventura and Leao (later Krunic) in support of the only striker.
Referee La Penna made no mistake in awarding the penalty kick: Maksimovic literally raises Bonaventura who had hidden the ball with great skill.
Seen how he had won with Juve, I expected more from Stefano Pioli’s team. Probably I would have obtained it if in the first half he had not brought the ambassador to the field Paqueta (in the second half Saelemaekers) and, above all, if Donnarumma had parried in a decent way.
Instead, after two highly effective interventions at the beginning (the first on Mertens, the second on Callejon), Gigio literally went into the ball. Di Lorenzo’s draw is a colossal gift because, on a pitched free kick in the area, Donnarumma went to deviate from the wrong side by serving a delicious assist to the Napoli defender.
Not much better went in the quarter-hour of the second half, when a conclusion by Mertens, on an assist from Callejon, surprised him by having him pull it under his legs. In this case, however, it would not be right to take it out on him alone. Bennacer, in fact, has not found a way to oppose the joke and Theo Hernandez has defended too lightly against Callejon.
Having said all this, Napoli concluded more towards the goal, made the game despite being by nature a team that starts again, has developed pleasant and convincing game patterns. Milan, just like against Juventus, used cynicism. A minute after Callejon missed the lead, Conti caught Rebic in the area. The attacker turned around and found Hernandez’s insertion on the opposite side, who scored with a shot under the crossbar.
Tactically the game offered a 4-3-3 (Gattuso) against a 4-2-3-1. In Naples, however, there was not Demme, but Lobotka. In Milan, surprisingly, here is Paquetà. Gattuso has often broken through the wings with Di Lorenzo and Callejon who have created numerical superiority over Hernandez. Good also on the other side, where Mario Rui is particularly fit. Napoli’s best was Mertens, while Milan’s best, Kessie which has not only had the merit of transforming the penalty, but also that of governing the midfield with its strength and a geometric sense that someone thought lost.
Saelemaekers’ expulsion forced Milan to end the game with a bit of trouble, but the result is correct. The Rossoneri are left with regret for Donnarumma’s mistakes (badly with his feet too). Otherwise, they could have packed the bang. But Pioli is happy even so.
Napoli-Milan 2-2 (1-1 first half)
Scorers: 20 ‘p.t. Theo Hernandez (M), 35 ‘p.t. Di Lorenzo (N), 15 ‘s.t. Mertens (N), 28 ‘s.t. Kessie (r) (M).
Assist: 20 p.t. Rebic (M), 15 ‘s.t. Callejon (N).
Naples (4-3-3): Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Maksimovic, Koulibaly, Mario Rui; Fabián Ruiz (20 ‘s.t. Elmas), Lobotka (20’ s.t. Demme), Zielinski; Callejon (39 ‘s.t.Politano), Mertens (29’ s.t. Milik), Insigne (29 ‘s.t. Lozano). Att. Gattuso.
Milan (4-3-1-2): Donnarumma; Conti, Kjaer, Romagnoli, Theo Hernandez; Kessié, Bennacer, Paquetà (1 ‘s.t. Saelemaekers); Calhanoglu (16 ‘s.t. Bonaventura); Rebic (44 ‘s.t. Krunic), Ibrahimovic (16’ s.t. Leao). All. Pioli.
Referee: La Penna (Rome).
Ammonites: 10 ‘p.t. Di Lorenzo (N), 30 ‘p.t. Mario Rui (N), 30 ‘s.t. Theo Hernandez (M), 32 ‘s.t. Conti (M), 40 ‘s.t. Saelemaekers (M), 42 ‘Saelemaekers (M).
Expelled: 42 ‘Saelemaekers (M).