Hernandez goal helps AC Milan edge to narrow win over reigning champions Napoli

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Hernandez goal helps AC Milan edge to narrow win over reigning champions Napoli
Theo Hernandez celebrates goal with Raphael Leao
Theo Hernandez celebrates goal with Raphael Leao
AFP
AC Milan kept their title aspirations alive with a hard-fought 1-0 win over reigning champions SSC Napoli, extending their unbeaten Serie A run to nine games.

Stefano Pioli was managing his 220th match as Rossoneri head coach, ranking him level alongside the legendary Arrigo Sacchi. Although, that milestone was almost marred by an early Napoli goal, as Khvicha Kvaratskhelia slalomed his way past Matteo Gabbia and picked out Giovanni Simeone, whose close-range strike went a whisker wide of the target.

But Milan soon found their flow and broke the deadlock with a goal which would have undoubtedly received Sacchi’s seal of approval. Rafael Leao played a sublime lofted assist into the path of Theo Hernandez, and the Frenchman took a touch before firing a clinical strike past Pierluigi Gollini.

After a sluggish start, Milan had suddenly found their rhythm, with Leao letting fly from distance and forcing Gollini into a fine save. It was a solid opening half for Pioli’s men, but Davide Calabria’s withdrawal through injury put a slight dampener on proceedings.

Gollini almost gifted the Rossoneri a second shortly after the restart by making a hash of Alessandro Florenzi's deflected strike which almost squirmed through his grasp, before managing to gather the ball with Olivier Giroud waiting to pounce. The match was being played at a frenetic pace, with Napoli half-time substitute Matteo Politano and Simeone both coming close to scoring speculative equalisers.

This represented a marked improvement from the Partenopei after break, as Politano came even closer to restoring parity through a curling long-range strike which sailed inches wide of the post. Milan looked to Leao in their search for a second, but the Portugal international could not find the target after being picked out by Yunus Musah.

The hosts were clinging onto their lead in the closing stages, after Jesper Lindstrom’s cross ricocheted off Jan-Carlo Simic and onto the post. But Pioli’s men had done just about enough to secure three crucial points and consign the spirited Neapolitans to a defeat - ending an eight-match unbeaten away league run against the Rossoneri.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Theo Hernandez (AC Milan)

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