Giroud sends Milan into semis despite late Napoli rally

Napoli, April 18 (BNA): Milan reached their first Champions League semi-final since winning the title 16 years ago thanks to Olivier Giroud’s first-half goal at Napoli that secured a 1-1 draw and a 2-1 aggregate win despite A barrage of pressure on Tuesday.

Reuters said Napoli struggled to the end but were unable to break Milan’s resilient defense until striker Victor Osimhen equalized three minutes into stoppage time with a header, but it was too late as the referee ended the match seconds later.

Seven-time European champions AC Milan will now face either Inter Milan or Benfica, who meet on Wednesday at the San Siro with the Italian side leading 2-0 from the first leg.

It was the third meeting between Milan and Napoli in 16 days, as Stefano Pioli’s visiting side secured a 4-0 victory over the Serie A leaders on April 2.

After Milan won the quarter-final first leg 1-0, Napoli pushed for the opening goal from the start as the visitors had to defend deeply against an attacking attack.

Milan struggled in a rowdy atmosphere, with loud boos across the pitch every time they gained the ball, but they held off an aggressive Napoli side for most of the game with an impressive defensive display.

Milan had the opportunity to take the lead from a penalty kick 22 minutes after Mario Rui hit Rafael Leao, but goalkeeper Alex Merritt stepped back to stop Giroud’s low shot.

Meret saved Napoli once again when he blocked Giroud’s attempt inside the penalty area with his foot five minutes later.

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As a result of the intense pressure from the hosts, Milan managed to exploit the gaps in the home team’s defense and took the lead through Giroud just before half time.

Rafael Leao blasted the ball from his own half past the Napoli back-keeper before rolling it to Giroud, who fired the ball into the net from close range.

Napoli had a glimmer of hope eight minutes from time when Fikayo Tomori handled the ball inside the penalty area, but Khavisa Kvaratskhelia’s penalty was saved by Mike Mainian.

Osimhen was tied up all night until a header in extra time but it was too late for Napoli and the frustrated fans.

Napoli, who were in the quarter-finals for the first time, are in a small slump without winning their last three matches in all competitions, while promoted AC Milan can look forward to playing in their seventh Champions League semi-final.


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