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Updated February 12th, 2024 at 06:29 IST

AC Milan ends negative Napoli streak with 1-0 win to pile pressure on 2nd-place Juventus

AC Milan put pressure on second-place Juventus with its first Serie A victory over Napoli at San Siro in over a decade.

AC Milan
Theo Hernandez celebrates with Olivier Giroud after scoring his side's first goal during a Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Napoli, at the San Siro stadium | Image: AP
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AC Milan piled the pressure on second-place Juventus with its first Serie A victory over Napoli at San Siro in almost a decade.

Théo Hernandez’s first-half strike was enough to give Milan a 1-0 win over the defending champions on Sunday and move it to within a point of Juventus.

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The Bianconeri, which lost 1-0 at league leader Inter Milan last weekend, hosts relegation-threatened Udinese on Monday. Inter won 4-2 at Roma on Saturday to open up a seven-point lead at the top of Serie A.

Napoli remained seventh and slipped seven points below fourth-place Atalanta.

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Milan hadn’t beaten Napoli in the league at home since 2014, although it had earned victories in the Italian Cup and last year in the Champions League.

Star Napoli winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia was given a new and liberating role by Walter Mazzarri and that almost had an immediate impact as he dribbled down the right before crossing for Giovanni Simeone, but he fired just past the right post.

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Milan took the lead in the 22nd minute when Olivier Giroud spread the ball to Rafael Leão on the left and he played a delightful through ball for Hernandez to run onto and fire into the near bottom corner.

The Rossoneri went close to doubling their lead immediately after the interval but Napoli goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini parried Alessandro Florenzi’s strike and then managed to reach over and grab the loose ball before Giroud could pounce.

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Leão almost got on the scoresheet himself — for the first time in the league since September — as he cut inside his defender only to curl the effort just past the right post.

It was end-to-end action at San Siro and Napoli almost equalized late on when Jesper Lindstrøm’s cross was deflected onto the left upright by Milan defender Jan-Carlo Simić and, as the game continued, goalkeeper Mike Maignan produced a fantastic save to push Matteo Politano’s effort over the bar.

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FIGHT FOR FOURTH

Charles De Ketelaere scored a stunning goal to set Atalanta on the way to a 4-1 victory over Genoa.

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The buildup was also excellent before De Ketelaere controlled Mario Pašalić’s pass on his right foot and – barely even looking at the goal – swiveled to volley into the far top corner with his left to open the scoring in the 22nd minute.

It was De Ketelaere’s eighth goal in his past 10 matches. He didn’t score at all for Milan last season and was loaned to Atalanta in the summer.

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The next two goals were also impressive. Former Atalanta midfielder Ruslan Malinovskyi leveled shortly after the break with a powerful effort after a one-two with Milan Badelj but Teun Koopmeiners restored Atalanta’s lead just four minutes later when he curled a free kick into the right side of the net.

Atalanta had seen a chaotic goal ruled out for offside following a VAR check lasting more than seven minutes. Former Genoa defender Davide Zappacosta and El Bilal Touré scored in the 10th and 13th minutes of second-half stoppage time.

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Atalanta is three points above Bologna, which moved into fifth with a 4-0 victory over Lecce. Fiorentina is two points further back after thrashing Frosinone 5-1.

Hellas Verona remained in the relegation zone after drawing 0-0 at Monza.

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Published February 12th, 2024 at 06:29 IST

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