Napoli vs Milan 2-2: Game of Two Halves Splits Points

Napoli fought back from a 2-0 halftime deficit to hold Milan to an enthralling 2-2 draw at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. A breathtaking Serie A derby could’ve gone both ways, but the sides had to settle for a share of the spoils.
Seeking redemption for back-to-back defeats ‘to nil’ in the past seven days, Milan flew out of the traps. Olivier Giroud came close to breaking the deadlock within five minutes, but the Napoli defenders made a crucial block to deflect his potent first-time effort into the corner.
However, there was no salvation for Napoli in the 22nd minute. Christian Pulisic effortlessly got rid of Mario Rui on the right flank and whipped the ball into the box with his weaker left foot. It was a perfect cross as Giroud slipped the net to head home despite Alex Meret’s valid attempt to thwart his attempt from point blank.
Napoli tried to respond almost immediately as Khvicha Kvaratskhelia dispatched a teasing cross across the face of goal. Matteo Politano was unmarked on the far post but somehow fumbled the ball into the side netting from barely a yard out. Milan’s response was relentless.
Minutes after Politano’s incredible miss, Davide Calabria delivered an inch-perfect first-time cross into the six-yard box. Giroud was too strong for Amir Rrahami, heading home another clinical finish to double the visitors’ lead just after the half-hour mark.
It was all Milan for the rest of the first half. Desperate to get off the mark in the Milan shirt, Tijjani Reijnders blew up a deadly counter-attack. The Dutchman decided to go for glory, even though he had Rafael Leao all alone inside the box. Soon after, he squandered another chance.
Theo Hernandez picked him out around the penalty spot, but despite being completely unmarked, Reijnders sent his first-time effort over the bar. Just before the halftime whistle, Yunus Musah forced Alex Meret to pull off a diving save to prevent Milan from going 3-0 up at the break.
Napoli finished the first half without a single shot on target. Aware of his side’s shortcomings, under-pressure manager Rudi Garcia made a triple-change at the start of the second half, trying to reinvigorate the reigning champions.
Based on everything that happened in the first half, Milan looked closer to replicating last season’s 4-0 win in this fixture than Napoli to avoiding another catastrophe. However, the early stage of the second half brought an unexpected change in scenery.
Politano took advantage of Marco Pellegrino’s sloppy reaction inside the Milan box to riffle home a thunderous left-footed shot five minutes after the break to initiate the comeback. Stefano Pioli’s side suddenly found themselves on the back foot, stunned by their hosts’ remarkable change of pace.
It didn’t take long before Napoli leveled the score. Second-half substitute Luka Romero committed a silly foul in the shooting zone, with Giacomo Raspadori stepping up to take the free-kick. Although Mike Maignan probably misjudged his angles, it takes nothing away from the Italian’s phenomenal set-piece execution.
Natan’s second bookable offense in the 89th minute made things complicated for Napoli down the final stretch. Milan almost capitalized on a numerical advantage in stoppages as Calabria headed wide of the near post after Luka Jovic flicked the ball over the top.
However, Milan eventually got away with a draw as Maignan’s impressive leg save denied Kvaratskhelia’s low shot with the last touch of the game.
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