AC Milan 0-1 Napoli: Rossoneri suffer damaging home defeat after VAR controversy

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan’s Scudetto hopes were dealt a huge blow as they were beaten 1-0 by Napoli at San Siro for the second straight season.

In the end it was a header from a corner from Elif Elmas inside five minutes that won the game as head coach Stefano Pioli’s poor record against Luciano Spalletti continued and Napoli jumped above Milan in the table into second place.

Pioli made four changes to his starting line-up compared to the team that drew with Udinese as Fode Ballo-Toure, Franck Kessie, Sandro Tonali and Junior Messias all came into the team at the expense of Theo Hernandez (fever), Ismael Bennacer, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Alexis Saelemaekers.

Napoli started the game as the better side and they got the first goal of the game inside the fifth minute via a set piece. The delivery was whipped in to the near post where Elmas was waiting to head past Maignan having beaten Tonali to the ball.

The best way to describe the opening exchanges after Napoli’s early goal would be tense, as both teams made some niggling challenges that drew the ire of the opposition. The away side again caused a bit of chaos as a corner pinballed around the Milan area, while Ibrahimovic saw shouts for a penalty turned away as he pleaded for a handball.

Ibrahimovic got his first real sniff of goal in the 18th minute as Kessie did well to work the ball out wide to Ballo-Toure whose cross was glances just wide of the far post by the Swede having met it at the near post.

The next effort came from Kessie as the Ivorian wound up for a shot around 25 yards out that he didn’t really get the desired power behind and instead pulled just wide of Ospina’s right post.

Alessandro Florenzi wasn’t far away from grabbing an equaliser in the 34th minute when a set piece was cleared to him a few yards outside the edge of the box and he swung his weaker left foot through the ball but his fierce shot curled just wide with Ospina at full stretch.

There was a moment of confusion inside the box when Rrahmani went to the ground and a low cross struck his arm while he was on the deck with Ibra leading the appeals for a penalty, but a foul was given for a shove.

Ospina was called into action within four minutes of the restart as he made a powerful stop at the near post to palm over a fierce strike from Ibrahimovic that was destined for the roof of the net.

The frantic start to the second half continued as the former Arsenal goalkeeper was again required to make a save from a Messias shot, and at the other end Tomori recovered fantastically to prevent Petagna from getting a shot off having been put in behind amid shouts for an offside call.

After Tomori pushed up the field and won the ball from Zielinski to start a counter attack that ended with another frustrating offside call, a double change came. Alexis Saelemaekers and Olivier Giroud came on for Brahim Diaz and Rade Krunic.

Midway through the second half Messias was not far away from levelling the scores after being fed by Tonali and having dribbled into a shooting position just outside the box, however the Brazilian curled en effort just wide of the upright.

It was very clear that Milan made a switch to a 4-4-2 with the substitutions, and Giroud should have done better from a Messias cross as he got an unchallenged header in, albeit while backpeddling.

With a quarter of an hour left Pioli made another couple of changes as Messias and Tonali were withdrawn in place of Samu Castillejo and Ismael Bennacer.

Ibrahimovic was presented with a golden opportunity to level with seven minutes to go as Anguissa shanked a clearance that seemed to put him in behind, though the touch of Milan’s No.11 let him down and Ospina was able to collect.

There was a hugely controversial moment in the final minute of the game as Kessie thumped a ball into the net for what Milan believed was a last gasp equaliser following a chaotic ricochet inside the box. There were scenes of delirium including Pioli running down the touchline, but the goal was chalked off for offside against Giroud, and we still have no idea why.

Tags AC Milan Milan Napoli

22 Comments

  1. jimmy1138 says:

    Without Massa (questionable Kessie penalty vs Inter, ridiculous offside in this game) Milan would be on equal points with Inter…

  2. Stam says:

    Football is losing its sense with var.

    10 years ago this wouldnt be an offside.

    Inexplainable decisions like this are killing this game and then FIFA proposes even dumber ideas ie latest offside rules mod to make the game more enjoyable

    Honestly if they keep this up i will rather play fifa – the video game instead and watch just a few games a year.

    Im pissed, this used to be a simple game

  3. Giorgi says:

    If the fact that we struggle to create any chances against the 2nd Napoli team is not alarming then I don’t know what will. Forget about that wrongly disallowed goal; we did not create any chance against such a weakened Napoli side! What does this tell us??? And, can someone please explain why is Pioli obsessed with Krunic? I don’t want to see Krunic on the field until it is some emergency situation. Never again!!! Pioli is doing everything possible to make it easy for Inter to win another Scudetto in a row.

    1. bb says:

      It was our 2nd team too you know. No Rebic, Hernandez, Kjaer, Leao, Calabria etc.

      Plus fielding Kessie & Krunic means Pioli gave Napoli a man (or two actually) advantage as they count as zero.

    2. Abubakar Aminu says:

      Krukic much better than Diaz, our problem is officiating .
      You claimed Napoli field second team, what of Milan without the likes of Calabria, kjear, Leo, Rebic, Theo and many more.

  4. Thomas says:

    There once was a great Milan… Now its just a shooting star, having some good moments during the season.
    I’ve seen Baresi, Van Basten, Gulit, Maldini in his prime… These guys wouldn’t even be ball boys for the old real Milan.
    P. S What was Pioli’s plan today? Crossing deep for Ibra’s head?? Bad preparation, bad coaching. He had Diaz walking for 60 minutes.

    P. S 2 Didn’t Diaz seem like a U19 player against 1st team player guys tonight?

    1. Milan from aus says:

      He has quality and potential, but his dribbling isn’t amazing because he has about zero strength, and gets, as you said, manhandled by all the stronk people, and then he has no impact. Just bcs he is in poor form though doesn’t mean he deserves all the hate he’s getting

  5. micah97 says:

    We played HORRIBLY and did not deserve anything from the game. Forget the Scudetto, even finishing in the top 4 places will be difficult.
    The team cannot pass or press well. No chances were created. Pioli stuck with his 4-2-3-1 when he could change things up. This is our 3rd home loss in a row. I hate being a Mlan fan and watching my team fail to give effort in a home game.Embarrassing

  6. Ibn O. says:

    Pioli needs to rethink his plan whenever important matches come. First, bench players that do not deserve to start, for instance, Brahim. Then set up the team in such a way that they won’t play embarrassingly and waste space. If we don’t have playmakers or wingers, at least we can use a central overload (which paid almost paid off in the end) and set up 4-4-2 (or 4-3-3) to frustrate opponents and use our chances well.

    The more Brahim and Krunic play in this set up, the worse the team gets. It is very obvious. No product, no build up, not even a workable press to keep opponents at bay. It is disgraceful and disgusting, even worse, it always lets our opponents into the game and diminishes our form and morale.

    This loss is the best possible outcome. Neither Pioli nor Kessie deserve a redemption for that chalked off goal with this farce of a performance.

    1. Giorgi says:

      Agree fully. I am terribly disappointed by what I saw today and have been seeing last couple of games. Our management and coach have some thinking to do to bring us back to life in terms of having a realistic chance of challenging for scudetto.

      1. Ibn O. says:

        Attacking Midfielder and a Right Winger need to come asap. If they can’t afford both, at least buy a player that can do both very well – Faivre fits the bill. The failure of the summer transfers will haunt this team and management takes the biggest portion of the blame.

    2. keo says:

      I’ve it time and again, playing Krunic is like playing a man down, add Diaz to that, and you have a 9 man team. We will keep paying for the ineptitude of the management in the Transfer Market. Some players in our starting XI are not cut out for it, and honestly we don’t have a formidable bench. Let’s just ride out another season and paint Milan Blue in May.

  7. RocketRacoon says:

    Look we lost tonight because the team was unable to create anything that wasn’t crosses to Ibra and later on Giroud for the most part of the game. The team has zero creativity, and very little is coming from the wings in terms of real chances. The team is losing confidence rapidly and there doesn’t seem to be a plan A at least with Pioli’s current system to turn around matches like the one tonight. All that said, though, to disallow a goal because the head of a player who was lying on ground and did not really intervene was offside is a joke, it’s ridiculous and it makes zero sense and someone at the var has to really, like reaaally want Milan to lose that game to call the referee to disallow a goal like that. Still it doesn’t change my impressions after seeing this team play in recent weeks: predictability, zero creativity, lackluster support for whoever is playing as a striker, lack of confidence… I’m afraid the team is devolving, and that’s a huge problem because.

    1. Giorgi says:

      Astute and precise analysis. Our predictability and lack of creativity are on par with lower table teams such as Empoli or Genoa. We need Leao and Rebic back badly, and then we need to pray that they won’t be suffering any more injuries throughout the season.

  8. okechukwu says:

    Why is that milan way like to conced early goals cant they compose themself at the early stage of the game this is madness am sad

  9. Vittorio says:

    Poor performance by Kessie, Krunic, Brahim and Giroud. The team is just a shadow of what it should be and one of the top-level teams. It is true that particular key players were not fit to play; e.g. Rebic, Leao, Theo, etc. Still, the team has to show more fighting spirit, creativity and determination.

    1. Milan from aus says:

      Ibra really didn’t play well either

  10. keo says:

    Not a surprising result, Milan deserve every result we are getting now… The stupidity and inexperience of Maldini and Massara in the transfer dealings. Pioli not been able to call a spade and offload the deadwieghts like krunic. How is Krunic doing a better job than Pobega would have done? Ibra can only rollback the years a couple of times with a little luck here and there, but he’s not what Milan need in attack. He can hardly best his man, can’t run anymore, best can do is an average holdup play, and fancy flicks if given some space by the opponent. He blames his teammates when he can’t control a normal pass given to him, sometimes the dude should own his fuck ups. He and Tonali let the goal scorer get in front of them to head in the goal while they watched on, I mean at 3mins into a football game, how absent minded can a player me??.  And please, can we just stop with the back-passing, with the exception of Leao, Tonali and just maybe Messias, almost all of our players back pass 90% of the time when they are cornered or when they have their backs against goal, even when there are better options, honestly  this is a disgusting habit. If by now Maldini and Massara don’t plan on going hard in January, trust me guys, just throw every expectation you have of this season into the Bin. Inter is steamrolling any opponent they face, they play at the same level week in week out, even with UCL commitments, i  wonder if their players are human. Our players play the first 25mins of every game like they just woke up from bed, fatigued and worn out, We can’t even keep the same starting XI for a month.

    Our substitutes don’t feel the need to step up when called upon to replace an injured player, they just show up to fill that space until the injured player recovers. Look at Ballo-Toure, that guy has had more chances to improve on his game than any other player on the bench, and he still hasn’t shown any sign of improvement. I like Pioli, but when a coach is faced with the same problem every, he needs to get it right more times than he gets it wrong. That’s the only way people can see that you know what you are doing, or you have the situation under control. You can keep making the same mistake week after week.

    Sometimes it gets tiring having to blame the boys all the time, in times like these you tweak your formation in a way that preserves our dignity, we may be able to score in some of the games, but must we concede??

    It pains me to see how the League is slipping away from us, because I believe we could have handled most of the situations better. We all believe in the scudetto, but We just don’t have the players who can play consistently to win it, because the management set us up for failure from the beginning of the season.

    A word for Maldini and Massara: we may not have the funds, or the capability of attracting the best playeres in Europe, but No one goes into the Transfer Market “waiting for opportunities” and scooping up used players. We need to know what we want for the season, and act on the market in a way to meet those objectives.

    It hurts watching us play.

    1. Milan from aus says:

      Messias annoyed me today and I actually would have preferred salamanders, he dribbled too much when there was a clear and unmarked ballo toure at the edge of the box

      1. Stam says:

        Messias always does this.

        It works against weaker opponents against stronger he dives all the time. If the ref falls for it like in a game vs Atletico, he is revered here.

  11. Rosso says:

    Milan are not use to this zero creativity strategy. It feels like they depend on a cross. What that shows they can not go inside the box. Like rebic used to do. Krunic makes things more harder. Messias in ideal. Brahim is buh. Ibra isnt going perfect and tho is going bad but there is lack of creativity. Why ibra had braces at times of rebic? He used to assist leao too. Just feel like this team is zero. Why do we say theo now? u Forgot his recent displays? Tonali was a guy we rely on but he also quitted his job. Milan need midfielders from the market if they can get some quality attackers. Ur defence is good except that theo place that will be covered. IG if pioli uses brain. U have different squad u need to have different formations also. Even out of the B team of Napoli they left out mertens and politano so i give 0 to milan. VAR is dreadful and very unfair to see always.

  12. Abubakar Aminu says:

    Krukic much better than Diaz, our problem is officiating .
    You claimed Napoli field second team, what of Milan without the likes of Calabria, kjear, Leo, Rebic, Theo and many more.

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