Napoli 2-2 AC Milan: Rossoneri throw away two-goal lead in thriller

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan threw away a brilliant chance to get back to winning ways against Napoli, drawing 2-2 on Sunday night at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

Olivier Giroud returned to haunt Napoli as he scored a first-half brace which put Milan in a very commanding position going into the break, with both goals coming from headers deep in the box after crosses from the right side.

The lead evaporated in what was a collapse at the start of the second half, as Matteo Politano and Giacomo Raspadori each scored with scorching shots – the latter a free-kick – to bring the home side level.

Napoli did go down to 10 men in the closing stages with Natan shown a second yellow card, but the Rossoneri were unable to force a later winner meaning they slip to third.

Stefano Pioli made one change from the defeat against Paris Saint-Germain in midweek as Pierre Kalulu came in at centre-back for the suspended Malick Thiaw, with Davide Calabria switching to right-back.

Milan were like a pack of rabid dogs to start the game as they persisted with an intense press, and Rrahmani produced a brilliant block to thwart Olivier Giroud’s effort from a deflected Yunus Musah cross that looked to be heading in.

There were a few tough challenges in the opening exchanges, one of which saw Rafael Leao go down just outside the box after a tackle from Di Lorenzo which looked like a foul but was not given.

The Rossoneri suffered a big blow in the 17th minute when Kalulu went down with what looked like a thigh problem and he was forced to come off, allowing Marco Pellegrino to make his first appearance since joining in the summer.

There was instantly danger to deal with as Raspadori nearly connected with a low cross from Di Lorenzo on the right side, though the offside flag did seem to go up anyway.

Just as the momentum seemed to have shifted in Napoli’s favour, Milan took the lead. Some patient build-up play saw Christian Pulisic pick up possession on the right side and he was given time to cut in and pick out a cross with his left foot. It perfectly curled onto the head of Giroud, who headed home from six yards out despite Meret’s attempt to parry.

Napoli should have been level very quickly as Kvaratskhelia sent a teasing ball across the face of goal that Mike Maignan couldn’t get to, yet Politano – unmarked at the back post – hit the side netting.

Things got even better for Giroud after his opener as he made it 2-0 to fully put his goal drought behind him. Calabria sent in a brilliant cross from the right side and the Frenchman rose above Rrahmani to head in off the post with Meret a passenger this time.

The game could have been killed off before half-time when Theo Hernandez found Tijjani Reijnders in space on the penalty spot with a cut-back, yet the Dutchman’s wait for a goal continued as he opened his body up and angled a shot wide of the upright.

Milan were swarming the Napoli box almost at will towards the end of the half with a sold-out home crowd making their displeasure known, and Meret made a low save to deny a Musah shot that again game from a Theo lay-off.

Pioli made a change at half-time as Pulisic was withdrawn for Luka Romero, and it must be hoped it is not due to an injury given how well he was playing to that point.

Napoli made the ideal start to the second half as they halved the deficit inside five minutes. Both Pellegrino and Theo were taken out of the way by Politano’s smart flick, and he fired a powerful shot into the roof of the net from a narrow angle to ignite the home crowd.

Milan continued to look dangerous on the counter-attack, and Leao should have done much better when he beat Ostigard and tried an audacious lob that he got well wrong, with Romero in space to his right.

Leao caused chaos down the left side with a run similar to his one in the second leg of last season’s Champions League tie, but this time there was no finish after pinball inside the box involving Theo, Giroud and Romero.

Napoli ramped up the pressure as they knocked on the door for an equaliser. A Di Lorenzo cross was fumbled by Maignan and then Kvaratskhelia’s spinning shot was blocked behind for a corner.

The home side did get themselves level in the 63rd minute and it came from a debatable free-kick with Romero penalised. Raspadori shot from 25 yards out and his powerful low curling shot bent around the wall and inside the post with Maignan not really near it at full stretch.

Milan still had their threatening moments, and Meret was called upon to make another good low save to deny Leao’s shot from just outside the box after a smart one-two involving Musah. Fikayo Tomori met the resulting corner with his head but couldn’t quite direct it towards the corner.

Pioli made two more changes with 10 minutes left, with a very frustrated Giroud coming off for Luka Jovic and Leao making way for Noah Okafor.

Milan’s injury problems went from bad to worse when Pellegrino went off in the last four minutes, with Alessandro Florenzi replacing him and the Diavolo down to one fit centre-back.

The next bit of drama came in the penultimate minute of the game when Natan fouled Romero as he attempted to dart into space down the wing and he was given a second yellow card.

Both sides had big chances to win it right at the death. Calabria’s far post header should have potentially stolen it but he hit the side netting, while Maignan saved well with his leg from Kvaratskhelia in the last action of the game.

Tags AC Milan Napoli-Milan


  1. Please please get rid of Pioli. Football works in cycles and his cycle is over. A coach that can’t motivate or develop his stars doesn’t get to stay and drain the energy out of the team.

  2. What a disgrace… Players are running like we are up 10-0, leao needs seriously a reality check , he lost it and think he’s a world class level already when he’d be on a the bench in any top class club with this attitude !! I mean trying to chip the goalkeeper from 25 meters !!! Wtfff

  3. can’t imagine a big team like milan can’t win one big match after playing 3 consecutive matches..Our coach and the team has let us dow n…Leao was absent today jst not in the match from beginning to the end

      1. you are right bro …he didnt wanna grow n bcome a world class player…i believe he saw how mbappe play ..the guy still playing lik a boy

        1. Yeah. I guess making cr*ppy music is more important and prestigious than becoming one of the best players ever in football. I mean… Who remembers any great footballers by name? And how about Portuguese rappers? I rest my case.

  4. Our substitute is not up to par. Pellegrino lost Politano, kinda insecure making the team nervous. Romero give away the free kick for the goal, and contribute nothing to the attack, making the team depending on Leao.

  5. Just need to clarify; Why on earth was Pulisic subbed off? He created all the dangerous move on the 1st half. Yep we’ll regret those miss chances. And sorry, Mike was below his standard for several matches now.

  6. After that magnificent first half, I really thought that we had 3 points in the bag, but what happened in the second half was a great disappointment. I strongly believe that it will be Pioli’s last year as a coach. Furthermore, the number and frequency of injuries is beyond alarming at this point.

  7. For once Pioli was right: Pellegrino isn’t ready. He will never be. Holy **** he is awful! And slow. Never seen such a bad CB in my life.

    Kudos to Krunic & Leao for being there for the team. Well played. Fanboys will be proud. And Pioli should get a f*ng raise for pushing Jovic on and taking Giroud off. Such an incredible sub.

    Mark my words: Jovic will NEVER score a goal for us. NEVER!

    Oh, and someone please teach Reijnders how to shoot. It’s not that hard to hit the target.

    1. Imagine debuting against Napoli of all teams, already knew he would be slaughtered and what is wrong with our medical team. Why so many injuries? You got 3 players getting injured in the same game.
      Leao with another selfish performance, when will he step up against a big team, the team is a mess.I will not slow down you damn website.

  8. He would be back with his usual words, “we were the better team for the first xx minutes”. Fu## this website, I am not even posting comments too quickly.

  9. Pioli out. He’s lost the plot and now the team. Both Leao and Giroud looked furious, at that point why sub them BOTH off for the players you’ve put on, doesn’t make sense. Puli off at halftime, the best player in the first half!??! lol like wuuutt. To put on an unproven young player. Puli better have had a knock or something cuz no CL this week, there’s no resting needed. Again, WHY take off any of those 3, I could MAYBE see Leao in like the 75th cuz he was really wavering there but the other two, my goodness. Pioli is done, I’ll be glad to see him go. Might as well fire him now b/c it’s highly unlikely we win anything at the rate this team is degrading with Pioli, just don’t ruin Abate by making him interim coach.

  10. So… 3 big matches. One point. We’re winning lots of trophies this season!!! At least something good will come out of this… Pioli will NOT be getting an extension.

  11. Any other good coach would make this unit work, we have great players with a hopeless man at the helm…I’m not going to call him a coach anymore… The man is absolutely hopeless…I have amateur coaching badges and this man doesn’t know what the hell he is doing. He bought his coaching license.

  12. I might be thinking like a fool but let me remain a fool.

    Frattesi was born a pure no.9 striker and not a midfielder. If Inter can accept to give us Frattesi on loan or maybe 35 max. Then we change him to our new striker. Be sure, he will succeed in that position with both Milan and the national team. As we know okafor is a false no.9. This will be ok instead of loading the team with dead men walking like Jovic.
    Giroud is too Old we might loose him soon to maybe Saudi league.

  13. Crazy game..I guess a draw was the fair result.
    But we always play well against Napoli recently. We own them like Inter owns us haha 😂.
    Ah where do we begin…. I’ll leave that for the ratings
    At least we’re third and within a shout

  14. -The team is so sloppy and all over the place, whether they’re in possession or not.

    -Top players like Mike, Theo and Leao aren’t performing up to their usual standards.

    -Injuries, especially muscular ones, are piling up left and right and seem to be occurring at an alarming rate. It’s like the club doesn’t even have a fitness coach or a medical team.

    If this doesn’t scream ‘poor coaching’ I don’t know what does. It’s like watching Koeman’s Barcelona all over again, no tactics, just vibes and relying too much on individual skill.

    Oh, and I wouldn’t be surprized if the players completely turned on Pioli and lost faith in “his abilities”.

  15. Pioli should be sacked now. He is not good for Milan standard. Infact Milan does not have a coach. I’m now certain maldini was sacked because of him. He can’t take us to the promised land.

  16. I’m just tired the coach is missing something here 4-3-3 is not Acmilan formation because we are not used to it out formation is the 4-2-3-1 Pioli should stop this drama and return to our old formation now we can’t hold our 2 goals you can see we have quality players but 4-2-3-1 we be compactible for them only if Pioli will here is and do the needful all will be well

  17. I blame the coach for allowing the players to get complacent. I guess it’s because it was Napoli. If we were two goals up against Inter, the fear of a comeback would make us do the right thing. I guess most of our players were still kids in 2005, when Milan played Liverpool in the Champions league final. Another lesson learned – ” it’s not over until it is all over”. Giroud kept running about, marking for the team, while Leao strolls on the pitch. The coach allows him too much freedom to do what he wants. It’s not helping the team. It’s always easy to score Milan from his side. After the disappointment tonight, I see Reijnders getting goals for Milan. He would be gutted with the missed chances. The management still has to get more players for the team, despite all the new arrivals. We clearly need a solid center back, a good striker, and a backup for Theo. This Milan team is still ” work in progress”. They will slowly get it right. Within a short time, this team will be a strong force.

  18. Caught most of the first half, looked like we were playing Napoli’s youth team, at that point you need to put your foot on their throat, giving their half time pep talk a rest by playing keep away. Sloppy passing and poor strategy was our demise. Losing a game here and there seems acceptable with a long season, but one day you wake up and you are out of contention.

  19. Poor subs. Jovic is atrocious and should never see the field. Putting Pelligrino in that position was asinine. Could have moved Theo inside and Florenzi at LB. Seems our “fantastic” summer transfer market may not be so. Can’t beat a good team or well coached team for that matter.

    Those fans who constantly defend Pioli by saying “well we had a great first half” – are completely missing the point and fail to understand the tactical part of the game. Garcia adjusted his tactics at the half and Pioli could not re-adjust like always. Same old story. ZERO tactics from Pioli. Like I said, Games are 90 min not 45 min. He has peaked with this team and now the players are starting to tune him out and the frustration is growing. We have never seen those reactions from Giroud or Leao before. Pioli is all on his own now. He has no buffers like he had in the past with Maldini and Ibra. He is starting to crack IMO. I know we won’t get rid of him during the season, unless we lose like 7 straight – but we should def be looking for a new coach come the summer as Pioli has taken us as far as he can and it’s time for a change – kinda what Maldini saw and was thinking all along….

    1. Yes Faildini who almost fcked up our whole project by signing freaking Renato Sanches and CDK, where are those two losers now huh?

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