Milan’s French striker Olivier Giroud scored the only goal of the game in the victory against Napoli and rose to the top spot in the Italian league against the ‘rossoneri’ team on matchday 28 of Serie A.
The day of the Italian domestic championship closed with a momentous duel for the lead in the race for the ‘Scudetto’ in which Inter could take the lead in the event of a tie. But Giroud prevented it with an isolated goal in the 48th minute that unleashed a close match at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.
Few chances in the first half, marked by the high pace that both teams brought to the game. It was a battle to prevail in the middle of the field that had no winner.
Napoli tried it with the changes of orientation of the Spaniard Fabián Ruiz, a key player in the Neapolitan ball output, and with balls into space to the Nigerian Victor Osimhen, who offered an intense battle to gain control of the ball with the combined center-backs red and black, the Englishman Fikayo Tomori and the Frenchman Pierre Kalulu.
The Milanese, on the other hand, overturned, without much success, the game on the left wing to take advantage of the runs and good driving by Frenchman Theo Hernández and Portuguese Rafael Leao.
MIlan did not forgive
As soon as he left the locker room tunnel, in the 48th minute, the protagonist of the night appeared to undo the tie. And it is not the first time that the Frenchman has rescued the team coached by the Italian Stefano Pioli this season. Giroud, wrapped in a tangle of legs and showing his great reflexes, managed to deflect with his left leg a shot from the Italian Davide Calabria who went wide to put Milan ahead on the scoreboard.
The party gave no respite. Napoli responded quickly through Osimhen, but the shot came out, although powerful, focused and easy to save for French goalkeeper Mike Maignan. The clash became, at times, a back and forth with the
Naples attacking the Milanese goal with many troops, which left spaces for quick exits from Milan.
The Algerian Adam Ounas was close to putting the tie at one with a left foot that went just wide. The Mexican Hirving Lozano entered with ten minutes to go to charge the Milanese area, and he did not think twice to hit the first ball he had. The final minutes were up to the occasion.
Ospina prevented more goals
Napoli pressed, with the fans devoted to the team, aware of the opportunity they were losing to establish themselves in the lead, but the visitors brought out their maturity so as not to lose face of the game at any time. Milan resisted the ‘partenopei’ onslaught and waited for their moment to do damage to the counterattack.
He executed the plan to perfection, with a tireless Theo Hernández who did not stop raising and lowering the band, but the Colombian David Ospina took out a good hand to clear the shot, and thus avoid the 0-2by Belgian Alexis Saelemaekers, who defined alone against the ‘azzurri’ goalkeeper in what was the last chance of the contest.
With this victory, Milan is in first place in the table with 60 points, two above Inter -with one game in hand- and three above Naples, in a fight to lift the title of Italian champion that is open and without a clear winner until the end of the season.
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