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Italy - Serie A
May 3, 2015
• Stadio San Paolo, Napoli
Referee: P. Mazzoleni
• Attendance: 25469
M. Hamšík 70'
G. Higuaín 74'
M. Gabbiadini 76'
That's all from me, I've been Keeghann Sinanan and it's been a pleasure!
That will do it here from San Paolo. Napoli move back to within four points of Lazio in third place, while Milan stay in the bottom half of the table, and are set for their worst season in over 20 years. A stern defensive performance for the Rossoneri was broken quite emphatically late in the second half.
90' + 2'
LAST-MINUTE SAVE FROM LOPEZ! Mertens curls one in from a long way out but the keeper, who hasn't put a finger out of place, tips it around the post.
The intensity has long gone out of this game, with Napoli's minds having already turned to their Europa League commitments on Thursday. For Milan, it's probably the Caribbean or Ibizia for their players, who need a holiday, but don't necessarily deserve one.
We're seeing the Inzaghi-face on the touchline again, a mixture of bemusement and resignation without a hint of joy. The end of the season can't come soon enough for Milan.
Mertens and Gabbiadini have been two inspired substitutions by Benitez, as they've helped to change this game in the home side's favour. They are set to close the gap on Lazio now with four matches left.
Two changes in the closing stages here, as Luperto comes on in place of the confident Lopez, while Bonaventura's evening is at an end, as he has been swapped out for Felicioli.
Napoli are resting on the laurels of their devastating six-minute spell, and are sucking the life out of Milan in the closing stages with a suffocating spell in possession, making them chase the ball.
Three goals in six minutes, and the San Paolo is bouncing here as time begins to tick towards the full-time whistle. Milan want this game to end - sturdy for so long but it's been an alarming collapse from them in recent minutes.
Milan's spirit has been crushed here and there's a shout for a penalty here as Mertens goes tumbling against Alex. The referee perhaps takes pity on the Rossoneri, and penalizes Mertens for a dive. The replays show a late challenge from the Brazilian, even though the Napoli winger went down under first contact.
THE GOALS JUST KEEP ON COMING! Ghoulam makes a great run on the overlap and plays it in for Higuain. Lopez makes a good save against the Argentine, but the ball rebounds very kindly for Gabbiadini, who sees it bounce off him for the third.
That may just be it for Milan. It may now be a matter of damage limitation. One goal was hard enough, and I really do not see the fatigued 10 men of the visitors grabbing two.
HIGUAIN BURIES IT! Fabulous from Mertens to catch up to a ball down the line and hook a cross into the area. Gabbiadini leaves it alone, and it sits perfectly for Higuain to take a touch and smash it into the far side!
Milan need to push forward now but they risk getting stretched on the break. Had Higuain played a better pass out wide to Insigne, then Napoli could have had a three-on-two around the 18-yard area.
How crucial could that be in Napoli's chase for a Champions League place! Hamsik has picked up a booking for taking off his shirt, but I highly doubt that he cared for a second. It's a bit heartbreaking for Milan who put forth everything defensively, but there's still time for them to make a stand in attack!
Yellow CardMarek Hamsik
BREAKTHROUGH! NAPOLI HAVE THE LEAD! A captain's contribution from Hamsik, who latches onto a loose ball just inside the box and lashes a clinical effort inside the near post via the woodwork!
A teasing cross into the area is nearly met by Gabbiadini, but once again the chance goes begging. The substitute felt that he was impeded in the buildup to that opening, but the referee isn't interested in his two cents.
Albiol has been solid at the back for the hosts, snuffing out attacks before they've been given a chance to gather a head of steam. However, this time he goes too far, picking up a yellow card for bringing down Honda.
Yellow CardRaúl Albiol
There needs to be more urgency from Napoli. Lest we forget, they need to win unless they fancy a six-point gap to make up on Lazio, with four games remaining in the season after the conclusion of this one.
Napoli are throwing everything at Milan here but the Rossoneri are standing firm. Less than half an hour to go now and Inzaghi's team must be starting to believe that they can grind out this result.
OFF THE BASE OF THE POST! The best chance of the game from open play for the home side. Callejon squeezes the ball in for Hansik after a quick shift from left to right, but the Slovakian's low finish clatters into the woodwork on the far side!
It's been all Napoli in this half, and they're starting to create a little more than they did in the first half. The reaction of the fans is very interesting - a mixture of frenzy and frustration.
It's starting to click for Napoli, who have created some openings since the resumption of the match. Their end product hasn't turned up yet though, which is slowly becoming a concern.
THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN MORE THAN IT WAS! Insigne plays a fantastic ball that splits the defence, and frees Callejon at the near post. The Spaniard opts to cut it back instead of having a shot from the angle, but his pass is behind Higuain!
Insigne was found by Callejon on the overlap, and the pint-sized attacker attempts a cross. It was probably heading out of play anyway, but a rather hesitant diving block from Lopez sends it out for a corner instead of a goal kick.
Paletta gets dragged out wide to deal with a run from Higuain, but the Argentine manages to squeeze a cross into the six-yard area. However, a combination of Lopez and Alex prevent the ball from reaching a teammate.
Milan coughed up an opportunity at the start of the first half and they've nearly done the same here. Higuain pounces on a turnover and feeds Callejon at the back post, but the wide man can't get his shot past the body of Alex.
Here we go again!
And that will do it from San Paolo for now. Milan survived a first-minute red card to De Sciglio and the concession of a penalty to enter the break all square. Lopez saved Higuain's spot-kick but from there, the Partenopei were unable to push home their numerical advantage in the manner that you might expect. There's still all to play for in the second half, so do stay tuned.
JUST WIDE! Chances abound in the closing minutes of the half, and Hamsik comes close with a stinger from 20 yards that flashes narrowly wide of the post! Lopez looked relieved.
OFF THE WOODWORK! Destro clips in a fabulous inswinging cross into the area, which Bonaventura attacks with a leaping header. He caught it well, and is unlucky to see the ball rebound off the frame of the goal with Andujar rooted to the spot!
Paletta is having quite a sensational game in the back four for Milan, as he slides in to stop a dangerous overlap from Callejon that would have put the Spaniard clear to the byline inside the box.
Milan advance the ball out of their own half for the first time in eons, as Bonaventura dances past his marker and spreads a ball down the line for Destro. The striker tries to deceive Maggio, but he's not having it.
Jorginho lobs a pass over the top of the defence for Higuain to latch onto, and the striker takes it down well with his initial touch. However, Paletta is on him like a homing missile, and clears the ball out before he can set himself up for a shot.
Benitez will want a breakthrough before half-time, but I doubt that it will change his team talk much. Simply put, there needs to be more intensity from the Partenopei. They're making it too easy for Milan.
The frustration is certainly building in the stadium. The fans accepted the patient, probing play initially, but it has not resulted in the manufacture of any gilt-edged gaps around the penalty area.
Milan are taking their sweet time every time that one of their players gets fouled. It allows them the opportunity to reorganize their defensive and midfield ranks, as well as forcing a retreat from the Napoli players.
Poli is the man that has shifted over to right-back to compensate for the absence of De Sciglio, and Napoli would do well to isolate Insigne against him more often. It's worked out well for them so far.
Inzaghi has to be pleased with the progression of this game so far. His side have found a way to stymie Napoli with 10 men, and have even created a few half-chances of their own.
The energy is being sucked out of this game at the moment, which is quite sobering given the explosive start that we had. Napoli are monopolizing the ball, but not creating as much with it as they should.
Insigne tries a training-ground move, lofting the ball to the unmarked Maggio who was making an overlapping ball down the right, but the pass had too much mustard on it for the full-back to feast.
Insigne is taken out on the edge of the area after a challenge from Poli. No booking, and it's probably at too much of an angle to have a direct shot, but there's still danger to be faced as Insigne prepares to swing this one into the penalty area.
Little pockets of restlessness in the stands as Napoli play it patiently, waiting for the right opening to strike. It's clear that they want a return to the momentum that characterized the opening minutes of this contest.
Bonaventura has gone down after landing awkwardly, and he'll need to be treated. It appears that he'll be back with us shortly. Milan certainly could do without another injury headache! Inzaghi's men are limping to the finish line.
Bonaventura stings the palms of Andujar with a rasping drive from at least 20 yards, but the keeper manages to keep it in his grasp. The Rossoneri seem to be coping well with their numerical disadvantage in recent minutes.
Milan's turn to work a spell on the ball, but they're struggling to advance possession out of the middle third of the field. It's to be expected, and Milan may want to be extra ruthless if they get any promising set-piece chances.
Napoli have to be moving the ball a lot quicker than this. They're allowing Milan to overload on the side of the pitch where possession is being held, which is forcing a lot of sideways and backwards passing.
Encouraging foray forward for Milan as Honda pounces on a turnover and strides into the 18-yard area. He eschews a shot, perhaps unwisely, as his square pass to Destro is easily intercepted.
As you would expect, Napoli have enjoyed almost uninterrupted dominance of possession since Milan went a man down. They will want to take advantage of this control soon though.
Incredible scenes here in San Paolo! Milan seemed set for a historically egregious start to a game, but Lopez prevented them from going a goal and a man down! Still a clear advantage for Napoli for the other 85 minutes of this contest though, even with Higuain's miss.
Missed PenaltyGonzalo Higuaín
Penalty saveDiego López Rodríguez
SAVED BY LOPEZ! Higuain stood on the spot for over two minutes, and that seemed to affect his focus. He hit it to the keeper's right, but the Spaniard guessed correctly and pushes it wide!
Red CardMattia De Sciglio
PENALTY! ALREADY! AND A RED CARD! De Sciglio has been given his marching orders after going late on Hamsik inside the six-yard area. Denial of a clear goalscoring opportunity and a nightmare start for the Rossoneri!
Off we go!
Jeremy Menez will not start tonight, with his spot at the tip of the Rossoneri attack taken by Mattia Destro. Three out of the back four have been swapped by Pippo, as Alex, Salvatore Bocchetti and Gabriel Paletta all step in for Ignazio Abate, Philippe Mexes and Adil Rami. Andrea Poli will also man the midfield three, with Alessio Cerci sitting out.
It's a new midfield base for Napoli following the Empoli loss, with Jorginho and David Lopez replacing Gokhan Inler and Walter Gargano. Lorenzo Insigne comes in for Dries Mertens on the left side of the attacking midfield three, with Gonzalo Higuain leading the line.
Milan (4-3-3): Lopez; De Sciglio, Alex, Paletta, Bocchetti; Poli, De Jong, Van Ginkel; Honda, Destro, Bonaventura.
Napoli (4-2-3-1): Andujar; Maggio, Albiol, Britos, Ghoulam; Jorginho, Lopez; Callejon, Hamsik, Insigne; Higuain.
Napoli have lost only one of their last seven against Milan in the league, with an even split of three wins and three draws during that span. Overall, it's hard to separate these two in the league in terms of their previous meetings at this ground, with 24 wins for the Partenopei and 22 for the Rossoneri in the past 66 encounters. This promises to be an entertaining match, with an average of nearly four total goals per game in the last five clashes between the pair.
Napoli lost against Empoli 4-2 last time out, a result which dented their dreams of a top-three finish. The Partenopei need to win here to have any chance of catching Lazio in third, with the capital club seven points ahead, albeit having played a game more. There's uncertainty in their dugout as well, with Rafa Benitez another man rumored to be changing clubs this summer.
Thai businessman Bee Taechaubol seems set to become the next owner of AC Milan, and speculation over Inzaghi's future has only intensified as a result. The coach appears set to take the Rossoneri through to the end of the season, but with European football all but ruled out, there may well be a significant changing of the guard both in the dugout and on the pitch this summer at San Siro.
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the Serie A battle between Napoli and AC Milan at San Paolo. The home side need a win to rescue their failing hopes of playing in the Champions League next season, while the visitors may well be playing out their final games under Filippo Inzaghi. I'm Keeghann Sinanan, your guide for all the action.
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