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Italy - Serie A
November 17, 2012
• Stadio San Paolo, Napoli
Referee: M. Bergonzi
• Attendance: 52546
G. İnler 4'
L. Insigne 30'
S. El Shaarawy 44', 83'
Milan rise to tenth place in the table whilst Napoli remain in third, five points off Juventus. That's all from me, Max Bentley on what was a thrilling match between Napoli and Milan. Thanks for tuning in, good night!
Walter Mazzarri will be disappointed that his side could not capitalise upon Juventus' draw but they can have no complaints over the scoreline.
El Shaarawy once again proved why he is being dubbed one of the hottest young prospects in Europe and those two goals bring him into double figures in the Serie A goalscoring charts. If you haven't seen it already, make sure to check out his first goal, a sublime curling effort into the top left-hand corner.
FULL TIME. NAPOLI 2 - 2 MILAN. El Shaarawy rescues a point for Milan after goals from Inler and Insigne had given Napoli a two-goal lead. The Rossoneri probed all match long and were worthy of the draw. A fantastic comeback from Allegri's side who showed real spirit and initiative to grind out a vital point.
90' + 3'
Marek Hamsik looks to break Milan hearts late on but after a series of stepovers, the Slovakian's goalbound effort is expertly blocked by Acerbi. Time running out for a winner.
90' + 2'
Robinho has made a telling impact since coming off the bench but he opts to shoot from range when there were better options available. Poor decision from the former Manchester City star.
Yellow CardStephan El Shaarawy
Stephan El Shaarawy receives his side's first caution for a foul on substitute Eduardo Vargas. From the result freekick, Abbiati is off his line quickly to punch clear.
There will be four minutes of stoppage time. Will there be late drama at the Stadio San Paolo?
Robinho and El Shaarawy link up once again and they nearly conjure up the same end result but the Italian's finessed shot is well saved by De Sanctis.
Fantastic end-to-end football here and M'Baye Niang stings the palms of De Sanctis with a fizzing low drive. Good save!
Napoli have the chance to re-take the lead when Zuniga's cutback finds Dzemaili 25 yards out, but his effort balloons over the crossbar.
Milan can sense the three points here and Bojan looks to score a third but his shot strikes the frame of Alessandro Gamberini. Can Milan nick the victory with six minutes to go?
GoalStephan El Shaarawy
EQUALISER FOR MILAN!! El Shaarawy cannot stop scoring and he has Robinho to thank for a wonderful assist. Allegri's substitution proves a masterstroke as the Brazilian splits the defence with a perfectly-weighted through ball and El Shaarawy keeps his cool to slot the ball past De Sanctis and into the far corner. Brilliant comeback from Milan!
Another change for Milan as Robinho replaces Boateng. Can the Brazilian salvage something for his side?
Napoli have the chance to seal the three points when Hamsik's effort is ricocheted into the path of Cavani but Abbiati stands firm to deny the Uruguayan his ninth goal of the season.
Yellow CardBojan Krkic
Bojan receives a yellow for simulation after going down under a challenge from Cavani. That seemed a bit harsh.
Massimiliano Allegri decides to shake things up by throwing on Giampaolo Pazzini in place of Riccardo Montolivo. Statement of attacking intent from the Rossoneri coach.
Both sides continue to push forward and it requires a brilliant interception from Mexes to prevent Cavani from turning in Zuniga's cross.
Kevin Prince Boateng attempts the spectacular from Bojan's corner but his acrobatic effort settles into one of the higher stands of the Stadio San Paolo.
SO CLOSE FOR MILAN! De Sciglio plays a defence-splitting through ball for Bojan who opts to try and take the ball around the advancing De Sanctis but the goalkeeper does well to smother the effort.
Another golden opportunity for Napoli as they have a four-on-four attack but Mesto's pass to Maggio is short and Constant clears the danger.
THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN THREE! Edinson Cavani is first to the ball ahead of Acerbi and flicks the ball over the head of Mexes where Hamsik is running through clean on goal. The Slovakian playmaker takes a touch before bending an effort inches past the post. What an opportunity.
First change of the game as goalscorer Lorenzo Insigne is replaced by Giandomenico Mesto.
Bojan is nearly through on goal when Montolivo's chipped pass finds him in the box but he cannot get the ball under control and the chance goes.
Yellow CardPaolo Cannavaro
Another card for Napoli as Paolo Cannavaro sees yellow for a rash challenge on Nocerino.
Edinson Cavani nearly restores Napoli's two-goal cushion when he finds space on the edge of the box, but his effort is too close to Abbiati who saves well with his legs.
Yellow CardHugo Campagnaro
Campagnaro goes into the book for a shove in the back of El Shaarawy.
Napoli nearly steal a goal against the run of play when Zuniga skips past De Sciglio down the left. He plays a cute pass inside to Hamsik and the midfielder's shot-come-cross is nearly turned in by Maggio on the back post.
Kevin Prince Boateng hasn't got his shooting boots on today and when the ball is rolled back to him by De Sciglio on the edge of the box, he leans back and balloons an effort over the bar.
Bojan whips in another corner from the right but Boateng cannot make a clean connection with his head and the ball rolls past the post. Napoli are holding on at the moment.
Brilliant play from Milan! Bojan has been impressive in this second period and he plays a lovely one-two with Riccardo Montolivo, but his dinked effort drifts wide of the post.
Half-chance for Milan as Mexes gets in front of his marker from Bojan's corner, but he can only steer his effort wide of the post.
Napoli are looking to cause Milan problems with the pace of Maggio and Hamsik but they cannot link their passes together in the final third. Milan are looking the most likely to score next in this match.
Yellow CardEdinson Cavani
In the build-up to that attack, Edinson Cavani brought down Bojan with a clumsy challenge and received the first caution of the match. That means he will be suspended for the clash against Cagliari next Sunday.
Wonderful opportunity for Milan! They counter-attack with Bojan down the right and he finds Montolivo. The midfielder feints to shoot before laying the ball off to Nocerino who fires wildly over the bar. He should have at least hit the target.
Napoli are yet to test Abbiati in this second period and it is Milan who are doing all the pressing at the moment. Can they find the equaliser?
Bojan wins a freekick on the edge of the Napoli box but Montolivo's fiercely-struck freekick hits the wall.
Bojan looks to set Nocerino clear with a fantastic through ball over the top of the Napoli defence but the midfielder cannot take the ball down and the chance goes.
Milan attempted 12 shots on target in that first half in comparison to Napoli's four and the Rossoneri also enjoyed 56% of the possession. Let's see what the second half has in store...
Massimiliano Allegri will not be too disheartened with the way his side have performed so far. They have looked dangerous when coming forward, particularly with Kevin Prince Boateng and El Shaarawy, and an early goal in the second half could really knock the stuffing out of Walter Mazzarri's side. Robinho and Pato are warming up on the pitch, could the Brazilian combination prove the key?
What are your thoughts on that pulsating first half? Can Napoli close the gap on Juventus or will Milan secure the comeback? Let me know via Twitter @MaxBentley1.
HALF TIME: NAPOLI 2 - 1 MILAN. A wonderful half of football here at Stadio San Paolo where Gokhan Inler's swerving effort deceived Abbiati to give the home side the lead before Lorenzo Insigne doubled their tally with a low drive on the half-hour mark. Milan have looked dangerous themselves however and they secured a lifeline just before the break courtesy of El Shaarawy's wonder-strike. Let's hope for more in the second half.
Milan, with their tails up, look to nick another before the break but Boateng's shot from 20 yards flashes wide of the goal.
AssistMattia De Sciglio
GoalStephan El Shaarawy
GOLAZOOO EL SHAARAWY! What a special strike this is from the 20-year-old! Mexes plays the ball to De Sciglio on the right wing and his pass to El Shaarawy on the edge of the box is struck first time, curling away from the outstretched hand of De Sanctis and into the top left-hand corner. That is his ninth league goal of the season, fantastic goal.
Kevin Prince Boateng has looked dangerous for the away side tonight and he launches a counter-attack deep from inside his own half. He does well to get to the byline but his cutback is well anticipated by Cannavaro.
Bojan shows his pace to dash past two Napoli defenders and into the box, but his cutback is brilliantly blocked by Cannavaro. Milan are pushing for a goal before the break here. Five minutes remain.
MILAN GO CLOSE! Kevin Prince Boateng plays a wonderful low cross into the Napoli box, looking for the run of El Shaarawy but the striker, who scored for Italy in the week, cannot quite get a touch on the ball and it rolls out for a throw.
Francesco Acerbi attempts to reduce the deficit with a strike from distance but his effort is excellently blocked by Dzemaili.
Milan are refusing to give up hope of a comeback however and they go close when El Shaarawy's shot from the edge of the box is well saved by De Sanctis. Some brilliant attacking football being played from both sides here.
SO NEARLY A THIRD! Kevin Constant puts his side in all sorts of trouble when his backpass is intercepted by Insigne. Bearing down on goal, Insigne tries to square the ball to Cavani and it requires a fantastic goal-saving challenge from Mexes to prevent the Uruguayan. That should have been three!
INSIGNE DOUBLES NAPOLI'S LEAD! Walter Mazzarri's side work the ball out wide to Christian Maggio whose low cross finds Insigne in the box. The 21-year-old takes a brilliant first touch before his shot takes a nick off Acerbi and goes through the legs of Abbiati. 2-0 Napoli!
Both sides are probiing for the game's second goal but neither can find that killer pass in behind the opposition defence. I have a feeling there are more goals in this one.
The delivery from the corner is poor however and fails to beat the first Milan defender. The Rossoneri launch an attack down the other end and Boateng feels the effect of a strong aerial challenge from Cannavaro, who does well to clear the danger.
Napoli attack straight down the other end with Juan Camilo Zuniga, whose shot across goal is deflected behind for the home side's first corner of the game.
Antonio Nocerino tries to restore parity with a piledriver from distance but his shot flies high over the crossbar.
Lorenzo Insigne looks to send Cavani away with a ball over the top but Nigel De Jong stands strong to shake off the Uruguayan's challenge and clear his lines.
Bojan wriggles his way out of trouble inside the Napoli box and plays a smart ball to Boateng on the edge of the box, but the Ghana international midfielder's shot is scuffed into the hands of De Sanctis.
Napoli are beginning to find their rhythm in this game now and Marek Hamsik is starting to have a telling influence on the game. The Slovakian playmaker glides past three Milan players but his through ball, intended for Insigne, is slightly overhit and a good move breaks down.
Milan need to be careful with how many men they push forward because Napoli are looking to inflict further damage on the counter-attack. Edinson Cavani nearly gets clear but he is prevented by a crucial interception from Mexes.
Milan continue to come forward in numbers and Stephan El Shaarawy goes close when his curled effort from the edge of the box narrowly evades the far post.
Riccardo Montolivo nearly puts his side in trouble when his wild backpass has Acerbi scrambling, but the 24-year-old manages to divert the ball back to Abbiati, under pressure from Cavani.
Napoli have hardly been out of their own half since taking the lead early on and it is Milan who continue to turn the scew. Can they make their pressure count?
Milan continue to probe and they come within inches of an equaliser when Boateng finds Montolivo in the box, but the midfielder's toe-poked effort creeps narrowly wide of the post.
Kevin Prince Boateng has been heavily involved for Milan so far and his teasing cross, aimed for Stephan El Shaarawy is expertly headed clear by Hugo Campagnaro. That was a crucial header by the Napoli centre-half.
Milan try to find an immediate response but Boateng's attempted volley flies over the crossbar.
GOOALL NAPOLI! The Partenopei take the lead with their first attempt on goal and it's a howler from Abbiati. Marek Hamsik lays the bal off to Gokhan Inler 25 yards out and the Swiss midfielder's shot swerves in the air and catches the Milan goalkeeper out-of-sorts, nestling in the middle of the goal. Nightmare for Milan!
It's been a bright start from Milan who force the first corner of the game after a neat passage of passing. However, Napoli clear from the resulting set-piece.
Milan force the first opening of the match when Mattia De Sciglio feeds Kevin Prince Boateng on the edge of the box, but his shot goes wide of the target.
Mauro Bergonzi gets this Serie A clash underway!
The Napoli fans are in fine voice as the teams emerge from the tunnels and onto the pitch. Captains Christian Abbiati and Paolo Cannavaro exchange handshakes in the centre-circle.
Stadio San Paolo has been somewhat a bogey ground for Milan in recent years where they have won just three of their last 22 visits. Can they secure a much-needed three points tonight?
Edinson Cavani has failed to score in eight of his last ten appearances against Milan, but scored a hat-trick in this fixture last season.
Stephan El Shaarawy and Edinson Cavani are two of the leading candidates to win the Serie A top goalscorer award this season. Who will shine tonight?
For Milan, injuries to Ignazio Abate, Luca Antonini and Daniele Bonera force Massimiliano Allegri to shuffle his back four with Kevin Constant and Francesco Aberci being called into defence. In attack, Alexandre Pato and Giampaolo Pazzini are dropped in place of Bojan and Kevin Prince Boateng.
Goran Pandev has not recovered from the knock that he sustained in the 4-2 victory over Genoa, meaning that Italian Under-21 international Lorenzo Insigne starts up front with Edinson Cavani. Valon Behrami misses out through suspension and he is replaced by Gokhan Inler.
Milan (4-3-3): Abbiati; De Sciglio, Mexes, Acerbi, Constant; Montolivo, De Jong, Nocerino; Boateng, Bojan, El Shaarawy.
Napoli (3-5-2): De Sanctis; Campagnaro, Cannavaro, Gamberini; Maggio, Inler, Dzemaili, Hamsik, Zuniga; Cavani, Insigne.
Without any further ado, here is tonight's team news...
Having seen Juventus drop two points at home to Lazio in a 0-0 stalemate earlier this evening, Napoli have the chance to close the gap at the top of Serie A to three points if they can secure victory against Milan tonight. Walter Mazzarri's side are unbeaten at home this season and face a Rossoneri outfit who have won only once in their last five away matches. From the Stadio San Paolo, my name is Max Bentley and I will be keeping you up-to-date with all the action between these two Italian giants. Let me know your thoughts and predictions on the game via Twitter @MaxBentley1.
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