Milan bring down Napoli

17

AC Milan are only two points shy of the final Champions League place after beating their Serie A rivals Napoli 2-0 at San Siro. Jeremy Menez notched his eighth goal of the season shortly after kick-off and Giacomo Bonaventura pushed the Rossoneri into a dominant position with a header just after half-time. The result means Milan climb above Napoli and into seventh place. Immediately above them are Lazio, Sampdoria and Genoa, who are all locked on 26 points and also targeting continental football. Milan wasted no time opening the scoring in front of an expectant home crowd. Only six minutes were on the clock when Menez accelerated to reach Bonaventura's through-ball before steering it beyond Rafael Cabral with a cool, hooked finish. Napoli took a while to respond but, when they did, they thought they had equalised through Gonzalo Higuain – the Argentinian clipped into an empty net in the 21st minute but was ruled offside. The Azzurri took heart from their near miss, however, and laid siege to Diego Lopez's goal for three frenetic minutes. First, David Lopez saw his namesake repel his snapshot, then the Milan goalkeeper got down to cover Jose Callejon's stab at the rebounding ball. The best chance fell to Higuain moments later, but he could not fool the keeper with a bicycle kick. On 34 minutes Milan bit back in style, with Andrea Poli wriggling past Jorginho to sneak into the box and flash a left-footed drive just wide of the far post. The Rossoneri were lucky to take their lead into the break, though, as Philippe Mexes went dangerously close to turning Higuain's low shot into his own net. Filippo Inzaghi's men repeated their feat of the first half by catching their opponents cold shortly after the restart. In the 52nd minute Bonaventura was the man best placed to guide Pablo Armero's perfect cross past Rafael, thus doubling Milan's advantage. Goal number three might have arrived soon after as Menez sent Poli into a confrontation with Rafael that the Napoli stopper only just managed to survive. Milan came knocking again around the hour mark when a fantastic move from Menez sent him past two defenders, only for Kalidou Koulibaly to shepherd him off the ball. On-loan Udinese winger Armero risked scoring an own-goal when clearing the ball off Duvan Zapata's feet but still Napoli came sniffing and Higuain soon flashed a volley just wide of the mark. The Azzurri did find spaces to exploit as time ticked away in Milan, but the impressive Diego Lopez would deny Higuain the satisfaction of a consolation goal with his stunning save from a fizzing drive.