Napoli 0-1 AC Milan: Giroud decisive again as the Rossoneri go top

By Mitchell Wilks -

A deft touch from Olivier Giroud was enough to see AC Milan take all three points in Naples on Sunday, sending them back to the top of the Serie A table.

An energetic first half was expected given the importance of the mammoth clash, with both sides tied on 57 points and able to go top with a victory. Despite penalty shouts for both sides early on, Milan had control of proceedings and looked like going ahead, but were unable to do so before the break.

Napoli seemed to be consumed by the occasion and buckled early in the second half, when Giroud pounced first to flick in a wayward shot for 1-0. It forced the hosts to try and ramp up the pressure as the game drew on, but Milan never looked uncomfortable and always carried a threat on the break to see out an immensely important victory.

Four changes were made from the midweek stalemate against Inter in the Coppa Italia. Sandro Tonali immediately returned to the starting XI following his suspension, while Junior Messias, Davide Calabria and Pierre Kalulu also came into the side.

The Stadio Diego Armando Maradona was boisterous and immediately filled with big game feel, as both sides put their foot to the floor from the very first whistle. Milan had faint appeals for a penalty waived off by Daniele Orsato after Ismael Bennacer and Kalidou Koulibaly clashed after five minutes, ultimately resulting in a booking for Stefano Pioli. Napoli had an appeal of their own ignored after 13 minutes, with the hosts starting brighter and regularly finding Victor Osimhen with vertical passes.

Milan grew into the game after seeing off a strong Napoli start, and almost pulled ahead after 17 minutes when Messias’ header forced a fine save out of David Ospina from a corner, only for Orsato to blow for a Milan foul in the box anyway.

A coming together between Koulibaly and Olivier Giroud resulted in a nasty gash on the Frenchman’s calf that required treatment, as a tense atmosphere between the two sides continued to grow. The Rossoneri now had control, though, and looked good for a goal whenever finding Rafael Leao in space or isolating Napoli’s defenders – a positive knowing that Luciano Spalletti’s side have faltered in recent weeks, losing three in their last six home matches.

Leao looked menacing whenever he picked up the ball in wide areas with a defender to run at. Deploying Tonali behind Franck Kessie and Ismael Bennacer gave the squad balance, with the 21-year-old sitting deeper and allowing the full backs to push on. Napoli managed to make it to half-time without conceding, however, with Milan unable to regularly test Ospina.

Despite doubts about whether or not he would resurface after suffering that nasty cut in the first half, it was Giroud who popped up with the opener after 49 minutes. Sneaking back into an onside position following a rebounded free-kick, a perfectly timed touch of French flair saw him open up his foot to instinctively divert Davide Calabria’s shot into the back of the net.

The goal galvanised the Rossoneri, who looked a threat whenever they won the ball back or overloaded in the opposition half. Napoli, meanwhile, looked sheepish and couldn’t hold the ball long enough to cause Milan any real problems.

An ankle injury finally forced Giroud off after an hour, with Ante Rebic replacing him and Rade Krunic also replacing Tonali in the process. Napoli also made changes to try and force a way into the contest, finally bringing them onto the front foot.

Adam Ounas used space on the edge of the box to attempt a curled effort after 76 minutes, but couldn’t bend it on target. Victor Osimhen worked tirelessly to find a chance to find the equaliser, but was starved of quality service.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his return from the bench in injury time following a seven game absence, helping to see out a victory that could prove pivotal in the race for the Scudetto, with second-placed Inter still to play Juventus.

Tags AC Milan Napoli-Milan


  1. Again the man is a legend. He doesn’t always play great but he’s always been a big game player. That’s why he’s a champion. One of the very few that exist on this team. Forza Giroud!

  2. Lol I was just thinking Saelemaekers seems to be regaining some form, then he blew that sitter 🤦‍♂️. I’m starting to think he’s Samu 2.0.

      1. It was actually a great save from Ospina, and the shot really was goal bound, but hey, a touch from Alex and some more composure would have made us 2 up.

  3. Giroud is a beast 🤩

    He got his leg bleeding because of dumb Koulybaly but he still scored 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

    Saelemakers could scored easily after Theo nice pass. I hope he practice more finishing because we need all goal we can get.

    But everyone plays plays pretty solid despite some errors in the passing.

  4. Everytime I watch Kalulu, I am more inclined to wonder why Milan wants to invest 30m in a defender if we are expecting Kjaer back, that kid has been incredible!

    1. Kjaer at the end of his career. He got ACL and next season he will be 33 years old. We don’t know if he gonna perform well again.

      And we can’t expect Romagnoli either with his inconsistent performance.

      That’s why Milan gonna invest on another CB cause Tomori, Kalulu, and Gabbia alone are not enough for 3 competitions (the league, Champions, and Coppa).

  5. Congratulations to the boys. It was a close one, the entire team was nervous. The referee was strict and careful not to let any flimsy controversies dictate the result of the game. He made balanced decisions regarding both sides.

    It was always going to be a two-man marking against Leao and we saw it, and it looked like he’s still suffering from fatigue. Tonali looks burned out as well. Messiah just does enough but really doesn’t produce the much needed spark on the right. For a huge part of the game I wished Florenzi played instead of Calabria, but Calabria was instrumental in the only goal. Great instinct by Giroud to deflect it in for a goal. The defence held their own once more today. No disrespect to Romagnoli and his pace, but the Kalulu and Tomori pairing was what we needed against Osimen and the Napoli frontline. We could have been in more trouble if Romagnoli played.

    Our double pivot had a great game too, I only wish we did give up possession to often as we did. Great hold up play too at the end of the game by Kessie, it reminded me of the Atalanta game at the end of last season. He could be the best player he wants to, if only he puts in the effort like he showed last season. I wish things would work out well for both parties in their negotiations. It’s sad things had to turn sour with the player.

    There’s no escaping or hiding from the fact that our attack is the fundamental problem. We can try all our current players in the #10 role, but we don’t have the right player. I wonder who the next experiment would be….lol. Hats off to the experience and skill of the Veteran Ibra to pick that pass to Rebic less than a minute coming on; Salemeekers had all the time in the world to pick a spot on that one-on-one, and it takes great technique to thread the ball into the goal with that sort of volley, and we all know he was never going to bury it that way. I hope Ibra can pick up the pace going int the final games of the season.

    The attack needs a serious facelift to be more dynamic. This cannot be overstated. An actual #10 and a skillful RW and a striker should be priority at this point as all our returnees already have their spots tied up… My only words to Maldini and Massara is “Quit the experiments, and get to work”.

    Let’s enjoy the win guys. We hope for the best. Forza Milan!!!

  6. Didn’t watch the game but I watched the highlights and I’m wondering how Saladmaker didn’t put that one in the back of the net. The guy didn’t even look at the goal before shooting.
    Anyway, I think this team can take all three points from aany team if they really want to. When they feel like, they can be mesmerizing and I don’t really believe there are teams who don’t let us play our game.
    Lastly, I noticed Chelsea aren’t getting their money’s worth off Romelu so I think they need a striker like Giroud but we won’t sell unless we receive an offer of about £60m plus £10m in potential bonuses plus let’s say Timo Werner to sweeten the deal. They know they won’t get a better offer than this.

  7. U aren’t serious @SHEERWILL96! LOL!! Selling Giroud for 60million plus 10million plus Werner!!! U are truly a joker!😂😂😂 But, honestly, if were to be a young player he would be worth alot. Forza MILAN!❤️🖤

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