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Italy - Serie A
April 14, 2013
• Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano
Referee: G. Rocchi
• Attendance: 72054
M. Flamini 30'
G. Pandev 33'
So, Milan continue their unbeaten league run in 2013, stretching it to 14 matches, and they face another stern test next weekend when they travel to Turin to face Italian champions Juventus. Napoli could find themselves eleven points behind the Bianconeri when they take on Cagliari and you feel that it would take something truly special for them to win the Scudetto now. That's all from me, Max Bentley, on this Goal.com live commentary. Make sure to check out the match report, reaction and player ratings. Until next time, goodbye.
FULL TIME: MILAN 1 - 1 NAPOLI. The Partenopei's 27-year wait for a victory at the Giuseppe Meazza continues as they could not take advantage of Mathieu Flamini's dismissal midway through the second half. The Frenchman had opened the scoring for Milan but their lead lasted only three minutes as Goran Pandev steered Marek Hamsik's pass beyond Christian Abbiati. Napoli maintain their four-point advantage over Milan but victory for Juventus at Lazio tomorrow will all but end their Scudetto hopes. All square in Milan.
90' + 1'
NAPOLI GO CLOSE! Moments after Abbiati punches Armero's shot away from goal, Calaio comes close to snatching a winner but his header from Zuniga's cross glances narrowly wide.
It's been a feisty second half and Philippe Mexes and Hugo Campagnaro are both cautioned after a spot of handbags. Tensions running high in the fight for the Champions League places.
Yellow CardHugo Campagnaro
Yellow CardPhilippe Mexes
Despite being a man down, Milan are looking for a winner here and they go close when Montolivo's skidding drive is prodded just wide by Pazzini.
Riccardo Montolivo's floated freekick somehow finds El Shaarawy at the back post, but the 20-year-old's shot is well blocked by Behrami. Will we see late drama at the Giuseppe Meazza?
Yellow CardMiguel Angel Britos
Miguel Britos has been grappling with Pazzini all game long and he joins the striker in the referee's notebook after hauling the striker to the floor.
Mattia De Sciglio
Ignazio Abate is struggling here and he is replaced for the final few minutes by Mattia De Sciglio.
Cavani goes for goal but disappointingly fires straight into the wall. Time running out for Napoli.
Yellow CardGiampaolo Pazzini
Giampaolo Pazzini has had a difficult evening and he picks up a booking after he fouls Zuniga on the edge of the box. Good opportunity for the Partenopei here.
With their Scudetto hopes fading, Walter Mazzarri makes an attacking change with Emanuele Calaio replacing Christian Maggio.
Stephan El Shaarawy does wonderfully to flick Abate's cross over Behrami's head but Pazzini can only volley the ball over the crossbar.
Napoli appeals for a penalty fall on deaf ears after Gianluca Rocchi waves away their shouts for a handball by Montolivo in the box. Good decision from the referee as it appeared to strike the Italian's hip.
Insigne does well to pick out Cavani in the Milan box and the Uruguayan opens up his body well but cannot quite bend a shot into the far corner.
How will Flamini's red card affect Milan? They were already struggling to create chances with eleven men. Can Napoli make their numerical advantage count and snatch a huge victory to put pressure on Juventus? Less than fifteen minutes remaining.
Yellow CardEdinson Cavani
Edinson Cavani is the next player in the book after a mistimed tackle on Niang. Tempers slowly starting to boil over here.
Stephan El Shaarawy
Robinho's match is brought to an early end when he is replaced by El Shaarawy. Can the 20-year-old inspire ten-man Milan to victory?
Yellow CardChristian Maggio
Red CardMathieu Flamini
FLAMINI SENT OFF! The Frenchman turns from hero to villain after he is deservedly dismissed for a two-footed lunge on Zuniga. The Napoli players are understandably livid. Flamini can have no excuse about that decision.
Insigne looks to make an instant contribution when he tries to slip Cavani through one-on-one but his pass is intercepted expertly by Mexes.
Second substitution for Napoli as Hamsik is surprisingly withdrawn. Pablo Armero comes on to replace him in midfield.
Milan are enjoying plenty of possession but they are struggling for potency in the final third. I think El Shaarawy will join the action shortly if the game continues in this manner.
Walter Mazzarri makes his first change of the game when he sends on Lorenzo Insigne for Goran Pandev. Solid performance from the Macedonian.
Yellow CardMorgan De Sanctis
Morgan De Sanctis receives the first caution of the game for time-wasting. That means that he will be suspended for the game against Cagliari next weekend.
Abate has gone 142 games without a goal for Milan and it seems that run will continue when his shot from the corner of the box curls wide of the right-hand post.
Milan win a freekick in a dangerous position outside the box but Niang wastefully balloons the effort over the crossbar.
Hamsik looks dangerous whenever Napoli attack but this time the Slovakian playmaker cannot pick out Cavani in the centre after he is halted by a strong challenge from Abate. You sense there are still more goals in this one.
Robinho combines excellently with Constant down the left-hand side but the Guinean defender does not make good contact with his cutback and Napoli clear their lines.
Montolivo plays a cute chipped pass over the Napoli defence for Flamini to run onto but the Frenchman is denied a shot on goal by the backtracking Behrami.
Cavani is hungry for a goal but the Uruguayan is denied when Zapata produces a vital touch to prevent him from latching onto Hamsik's through pass. You feel that he will certainly get at least one more opportunity in this match.
Robinho lays the ball off to Flamini on the edge of the box but the Frenchman cannot replicate his earlier effort as his low drive is well held by De Sanctis.
The Rossoneri have not drawn a single league game at home this season but are on course for just that this evening. The sides drew 2-2 at the Stadio San Paolo in the reverse fixture earlier this season.
Goran Pandev looks to add to his tally when he lines up a strike from distance, but his fierce effort is well held by Abbiati.
After a dreadful start to the season, Allegri really has turned this Milan side around. If the leagues started in November, the Rossoneri would lead the Serie A table. Unfortunately for them, it doesn't...
Milan get the second half underway. No signs of a substitution from either side although El Shaarawy did go through an extensive warm-up at the break.
What did you make of that first half? Can Napoli find the win that will take them six points behind Juventus or will Milan extend their winning streak at home to ten consecutive matches? Let me know your views via Twitter @MaxBentley1.
HALF TIME: MILAN 1 - 1 NAPOLI. The Rossoneri deservedly opened the scoring when Mathieu Flamini's sweetly-struck effort flew past Morgan De Sanctis from the edge of the box, but the lead lasted less than three minutes after Goran Pandev coolly placed a shot past Christian Abbiati from Marek Hamsik's neat pass. The Partenopei certainly finished the half the stronger.
Milan look to snatch a second goal just before the break when Robinho finds Niang on the edge of the box, but the Frenchman drags his effort well wide of the post.
NAPOLI GO CLOSE TO TAKING THE LEAD. Edinson Cavani is starting to get a sniff of goal and he produces a wonderful touch to control Cannavaro's long ball over the top, but the Uruguayan cannot produce the finish to match as Abbiati produces a vital fingertip to deny his lob. Napoli finishing the half strongly.
Riccardo Montolivo finds space to line up a shot from the edge of the box, but his low left-footed drive is well saved by De Sanctis. Just under five minutes until the break.
Dzemaili looks to slip Cavani through on goal but the Uruguayan is denied a one-on-one when the linesman adjudges that he is offside.
Milan look to regain the lead when Muntari produces an acrobatic volley from the edge of the box, but De Sanctis watches the ball comfortably roll past his left post.
Milan are forced into an early change when Kevin-Prince Boateng is forced off with an injury. French youngster M'Baye Niang comes on to replace him.
Napoli find space with Zuniga down the left again and he picks out Hamsik on the left corner of the box, but the Slovakian's shot flashes into the side netting.
Robinho does fantastically to latch onto Constant's searching ball over the top and the Brazilian tries to square for Pazzini, but the Italian forward is marshalled excellently by Britos and Napoli clear.
NAPOLI EQUALISE! Milan's lead lasts less than three minutes when Zuniga releases Hamsik down the left and the Slovakian coolly picks out Pandev in the box, who nudges the ball past Abbiati confidently. Where was the defending? This game has burst into life, 1-1!
1-0 MILAN! Fantastic strike from Flamini. The French midfielder makes it two goals in two games when he capitalises on a loose ball on the edge of the box after Britos had dispossessed Pazzini, sweeping the ball into the bottom corner and past the flailing arm of De Sanctis. Massive goal for Juventus.
Edinson Cavani capitalises on an error in the Milan half but with no support, the Uruguyan unleashes a piledriver from distance which swerves wildly over the crossbar.
Brave goalkeeping from De Sanctis when he plucks the ball out of the air to prevent Pazzini from converting Zapata's header back across goal. His opposite number, Abbiati, has hardly been troubled so far with both sides lacking that cutting edge in the final third.
Neither Pazzini nor Cavani have received much service in the opening stages and the game is very congested in the midfield. There have not been many clear-cut opportunities so far.
Marek Hamsik hasn't seen too much of the ball so far but he nearly breaks the deadlock when he looks to slide Pandev through on goal, only to be denied by a fantastic interception from Mexes.
Really poor play from Napoli when Pandev is adjudged offside after receiving Cannavaro's return pass from the corner. I think it's safe to say that the next one will definitely be launched into the Milan box.
The Napoli players are screaming for a penalty when Hamsik's cross appears to strike the arm of Flamini. However, Gianluca Rocchi is not interested in the appeals and waves play on.
Milan are looking for their tenth successive home victory in all competitions this evening and look good value to extend that run by their performance in the start of this match. Can Allegri's side find the breakthrough?
Pandev takes a short corner to Cannavaro, but the defender's cross into the box fails to beat the first man and Montolivo heads clear. Tentative start from the visitors.
Dzemaili concedes possession cheaply to Constant and the left-back nearly notches an assist when his cross is poked narrowly wide at the back post by Boateng.
This time it is Kevin Constant who gets forward from full-back and the Guinean tests De Sanctis with a strong effort which took a deflection off of Maggio.
Diego Maradona was the matchwinner last time Napoli beat Milan in April 1986. Can Mazzarri's side claim a rare victory at the Giuseppe Meazza?
Montolivo delivers a corner into the Partenopei box and it is headed just over by Zapata. Good start from the home side here.
Ignazio Abate is getting forward excellently down the right and he gets in behind Zuniga once again, but can only find the shins of Cannavaro with his low cross.
Boateng has looked lively so far and he drops off to the edge of the box once again but his shot flashes wide of the target.
GOOD SAVE FROM DE SANCTIS! Milan nearly take an early lead when Abate cuts the ball back for Boateng on the edge of the box and the Ghanaian's shot takes a wicked deflection off the heel of Cannavaro, forcing the Napoli goalkeeper to make a smart reflex stop.
Christian Maggio looks for the spectacular when he lines up a strike from distance but it takes a deflection off Muntari and Abbiati claims.
Blerim Dzemaili has been in wonderful goalscoring form as of late and he does well to win a corner down the right but it is headed safely clear by Boateng.
Milan look for the early advantage when Boateng dummies Abate's pass into the feet of Pazzini, but Campagnaro is alert to nick the ball off the Italian's toes and clear the danger.
Napoli get the ball rolling...
Reports that El Shaarawy is on the bench because he will be suspended for the match against Juventus if he picks up a caution this evening. Risky gamble from Allegri.
The teams emerge from the tunnels led by captains Christian Abbiati and Paolo Cannavaro. A fantastic atmosphere here at the Giuseppe Meazza. Can Milan end Napoli's title dream? Prepare for kickoff...
Napoli’s last victory in this fixture was in April 1986, followed by 10 defeats and nine draws between Serie A and the Coppa Italia. Can they end that run tonight and put pressure on Juventus? Let me know your thoughts via Twitter @MaxBentley1.
There have been 129 previous meetings between the sides, with Milan victorious on 53 occasions. There have been 43 draws whilst Napoli have claimed 33 wins.
Just how important is Edinson Cavani to Napoli? Well, without the Uruguayan's goals, Napoli would be 15 points off their current total and lying in eighth position in the league table. Can the Partenopei hold on to their prized asset in the summer?
Walter Mazzarri makes only change from the side which defeated Genoa 2-0 with Colombian wing-back Juan Zuniga entering the fray, in place of international colleague Pablo Armero. Serie A top goalscorer Edinson Cavani (22 goals) partners Goran Pandev up front.
Allegri makes three changes to the side which let a two-goal lead slip in the 2-2 draw with Fiorentina last weekend. Mario Balotelli is suspended after picking up his fifth booking and he is replaced by Giampaolo Pazzini up front. Kevin Constant comes in at left-back for Mattia De Sciglio whilst Stephan El Shaarawy is a shock exclusion from the lineup, with Robinho in his place to make only his second start in 2013.
NAPOLI (3-5-2): De Sanctis; Campagnaro, Cannavaro, Britos; Maggio, Behrami, Dzemaili, Hamsik, Zuniga; Pandev, Cavani.
MILAN (4-3-3): Abbiati; Abate, Zapata, Mexes, Constant; Flamini, Montolivo, Muntari; Boateng, Pazzini, Robinho.
Here are tonight's lineups starting with the Rossoneri...
The resurgence of Milan since the winter break has been one of the tales of this Serie A campaign and Massimiliano Allegri's side have surged up the league table to occupy third place and look strong candidates for a Champions League position. The Rossoneri are unbeaten in 13 league matches, since a 4-2 defeat to Roma back in December, but tonight they face a tricky test as Walter Mazzarri's Napoli come to town. The Partenopei sit in second position, four points ahead of Milan. With Juventus nine points clear at the summit, it seems that anything but a win tonight would surely end their fading hopes of a first Scudetto title in 23 years. They don't get much bigger than this! My name is Max Bentley and I'll be guiding you through this evening's action from the Giuseppe Meazza. Feel free to let me know your thoughts and predictions via Twitter @MaxBentley1.
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