AC Milan Defeats Napoli On Aggregate To Progress To The Semifinals Of The UEFA Champions League For The First Time Since 2007

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Two Italian sides donned their iconic colours to perform an enthralling showdown for the ages at the Diego Armando Maradona stadium as SSC Napoli and AC Milan shared the spoils in the competitive clash.

Napoli’s formation and starting lineup

The home side tutored by Luciano Spalleti filed out in a 4-3-3 formation with Meret in goal, Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Jesus, Rui, Ndombele, Lobotka, Zielinski, Politano, Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia completing the line-up.

The formation of AC Milan and their starting XI

Stefano Pioli set out his AC Milan in a 4-2-3-1 pattern with Maignan in goal, Calabria, Kjer, Tomori, Hernandez, Krunic, Tonali, Diaz Bennacer, Leao and Giroud completing the XI.

The away side got the game underway and it was in full swing and a keenly contested affair at the Diego Armando Maradona stadium. 

Milan got the game’s first big notable action as they secured a penalty following a foul from Rui on Leao after a quick counter attack initiated by the side.

Giroud missed a glorious chance to take AC Milan ahead in the early stages of the clash

Referee Szymon Marciniak wasted no time in pointing to the spot and afterwards Alex Meret saved the eventual penalty kick taken by Frenchman Olivier Giroud. 

Meret saved the penalty played by AC Milan Olivier Giroud
Meret saved the penalty played by Olivier Giroud

In the 28th minute of the encounter, Alex Meret was on hand once again to prevent Olivier Giroud from scoring after he found space in the box to shoot. 

4 minutes later, Matteo Politano and Mario Rui were subbed off for Hirving Lozano and Mathias Olivera respectively due to injury issues. 

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Afterward, Napoli and AC Milan continued to soldier on, attacking, pressing and blocking everything that came their way. 

However, it was until the 41st minute of the game that the floodgate of goals was opened after Olivier Giroud redeemed himself after his penalty miss earlier on. 

Giroud netted for AC Milan to double the Red and Blacks advantage on aggregate but he has Rafael Leao to thank after the Portuguese carried the ball from his own half and dashed into the 18-yard-box of Napoli evading through several challenges. 

Leao then calmly squared the ball for Olivier Giroud who made no error in converting from inside the 6-yard-box. 

The center referee added 6 minutes as additional time in the first 45 and stoppage time became a time where Yellow cards were flying left, right and centre. 

Ismael Bennacer in possession of the ball for AC Milan
Ismael Bennacer in possession of the ball for AC Milan during the game

Milan picked the first yellow card in the game after Theo Hernandez was booked for a foul on Nigerian International Victor Osimhen. 

Napoli thought they had equalised in the fourth minute of additional time after the away side failed to clear and Osimhen took advantage by burying the ball.

But the referee ruled out the goal after the ball hit the Nigerian on the arm before he netted the goal.

Mike Maignan was also cautioned for time wasting and Di Lorenzo was shown a yellow card for a foul on Bennacer in additional time of the first half. 

It finished 0-1 with AC Milan having the upper hand in the first half of proceedings, Luciano Spalleti would definitely have had plenty to discuss during the break.

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How the second half of proceedings went

The second half commenced with so much intensity from both teams and Kvaratskhelia got the second half first goal mouth action in the 47th minute after he ran into the box before turning Calabria inside out but his shot went over the bar.

In the 57th minute, Kvaratskhelia nicely went past two defenders of AC Milan as he drove into the box but once more, he couldn’t find the back of the net as his shot went over the bar. 

Stefano Pioli introduced Junior Messias for Brahim Diaz in the 59th minute and 4 minutes later Luciano Spalleti also responded with his own substitution bringing on Eljif Elmas for Tanguay Ndombele. 

A minute later, Olivera was completely unmarked in the box and he connected to a cross delivered by Kvaratskhelia from a corner at the far post but he couldn’t place his header towards goal. 

In the 68th minute of the clash, Olivier Giroud was substituted for former Liverpool forward Divock Origi. 

Spalleti, eyeing to effect a change in the encounter, introduced two substitutes in the 74th minute as Leo Ostigard came on for Amir Rrahmani and Giacomo Raspadori was brought on for Piotr Zielinski. 

Napoli secured a penalty 6 minutes later after the ball struck the hand of the sliding Fikayo Tomori with the referee instantly signaling for a penalty.

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Napoli missed a penalty late on in the game against Milan

In the 82nd minute, Kvaratskhelia played the spot kick but Mike Maignan was equal to the task after guessing the way. 

Stefano Pioli introduced a new substitute in the 84th minute of the game with Alexis Saelemaekers replacing Rafael Leao. 

Referee Szymon Marciniak added four minutes as additional time for the second half of action and Victor Osimhen rose up clutch to equalize for the Neapolitans. 

Victor Osimhen netted his 26th goal of the season against AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League
Victor Osimhen netted his 26th goal of the season against AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League

Osimhen sent a thunderous header into the bottom corner in the 3rd minute of stoppage time following a cross well delivered by Giacomo Raspadori. 

The last booking dished out in the game by Szymon Marciniak went to Mathias Olivera and the action finished in the 95th minute with the 7 time champions of the UEFA Champions League progressing to the Semi-final. 

Napoli would feel sad having lost but they shouldn’t beat themselves too hard as they have had an incredible season by their standards. 

They are on the verge of winning the Serie A and all attention definitely would turn to focus on lifting that trophy.

AC Milan, the eventual winners of the showdown winning by 2-1 would be delighted at the victory.

It is the first time the Rossoneri would be reaching the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League since the 2006/07 season and they would be proud of the feat.

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