Milan vs Napoli: Bennacer goal gives Milan advantage in Champions League

Napoli, one of Europe’s most high-flying teams this season, have suddenly been backed into a corner by a bogey team they just can’t shake.

A goal from Ismael Bennacer against the run of play gave AC Milan a 1-0 win at the San Siro in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal, and while that alone won’t shake Napoli to the core, they have significant adversity to overcome.

Without injured striker Victor Osimhen, Napoli were able to create significant chances but couldn’t find anyone to put the ball in the back of the net, proving wasteful throughout the match.

Milan, meanwhile, absorbed pressure throughout the game and pinned Napoli back in large stretches, happy to play on the counter.

A big Rafael Leao miss felt as though it may prove their undoing, but Bennacer powerfully finished off a counter-attack just before halftime after great work from Brahim Diaz.

Napoli manager Luciano Spaletti made the big call to play with a false nine in Osimhen’s absence, but his playmakers Hirving Lozano, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, and Eljif Elmas were ineffective in finding ways to finish chances. They were foiled on multiple occasions by Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan who was fantastic between the sticks.

Anguissa was sent off for a second yellow card in quick succession in the 74th minute, and then Kim was booked for dissent in the dying stages of the match in a moment of madness likely brought on by some one-sided officiating. Napoli will feel the world is suddenly against them, and it sets up a delicious second leg in Naples in a week’s time.

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