After almost nine years, Milan claimed a home victory against reigning Serie A champions Napoli, running out 1-0 victors on Sunday night. Theo Hernandez’s moment of pure brilliance midway through the first half set the sides apart at the final whistle.
Hernandez’s significance to Pioli’s tactical set-up has been immense, especially in times of great urgency. With Milan facing a severe injury crisis at the back, the Frenchman offered to change his natural left-back position and play at the heart of the Rossoneri defense.
Matteo Gabbia’s return to Milan in January has helped the ex-Real Madrid man return at left-back. It paid dividends against Napoli as the famous connection between him and Rafael Leao fired Milan to their first home league win against Napoli since 2015.
Pioli praised his versatile defender in the aftermath, hailing his rapport with the Portuguese winger.
“Theo had put himself at our disposal as a central defender and he did it very well indeed, but naturally he has such a great rapport with Leao down the left, they know each other so well, can sniff each other out,” the Milan boss said, as quoted by Gianluca Di Marzio.
Hernandez’s goal inspired Milan to a ninth consecutive league match without losing (W7, D2), maintaining their faint hopes of catching up with runaway leaders Inter. Their next top-flight assignment takes them to Brianteo to meet out-of-sorts Monza next weekend.
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