MILAN, 18 September 2022 (AFP) – Napoli announced their bid for the Serie A title with Sunday’s 2-1 win at AC Milan, who maintained their lead in the table, amid the crisis at Juventus after a humiliating defeat at Monza.
Second-half goals from Matteo Politano and Giovanni Simeone gave Napoli a emphatic victory at the San Siro, who were unable to do without injured star striker Victor Osimhen and suspended coach Luciano Spalletti on the bench.
Spalletti’s side top the table on goal difference, ahead of Atalanta, who beat Roma 1-0 and three points ahead of Milan, who slip to fifth after their first defeat of the season.
Milan were the more dangerous side in the first half and would have taken the lead in the 13th minute had Alex Meret not brilliantly deflected Olivier Giroud’s shot over the bar.
Despite missing the suspended Rafael Leao, Milan lacked their usual penetrating power and combined with a couple of unfortunate incidents of players getting in each other’s way, Milan denied a deserved advantage at the break.
They were penalized 10 minutes after the break after a decision that infuriated Milan, Maurizio Mariani pointed to the spot for a foul on Khvicha Kvaratskhelia from Sergino Dest and Politano slotted the penalty under Mike Maignan.
Giroud gave the angry crowd what they wanted, but his fourth league goal of the season was all the work of his French team-mate Theo Hernandez, an excellent jab down the left flank and a return that allowed the experienced Sturm to level the points easily.
However, while Milan were pushing for a win, Simeone hit them with a bog punch and hit Mario Rui’s flight pass with a perfect header.
Milan responded again but after Pierre Kalulu somehow hit the crossbar from Giroud’s shot four minutes from time, Napoli held out for a potentially huge three points.
Atalanta regains the lead
Atalanta are level with Napoli after Giorgio Scalvini scored three points from a lovely low shot ten minutes before the break at the Stadio Olimpico.
Gian Piero Gasperini’s side are a point clear of Udinese, who beat Inter Milan 3-1 early on Sunday to claim their fifth straight game.
Roma, who had lost Paulo Dybala to injury in the pre-match warm-up and were wasting in front of goal, were furious ten minutes after the break when referee Daniele Chiffi didn’t give the hosts a penalty because Caleb Okoli ripped Nicolo Zaniolo’s shorts up to the point that his underwear was showing.
“I have to change what I tell the players, I have to tell them not to stay on their feet … be a clown, like many who dive like a swimming pool in this league,” Mourinho told DAZN after he was sent off for his protests.
Juventus in crisis
Juventus were in trouble ahead of Sunday and boos from the stands after their midweek defeat by Benfica were echoed from the away game after a devastating 1-0 defeat at the U-Power Stadium.
Silvio Berlusconi, owner of Monza and former Milan patron, celebrated after Christian Gytkjaer struck his historic winner with 15 minutes remaining, increasing the pressure on Juve to sack coach Massimiliano Allegri.
Allegri was not on the bench after being sent off at the end of last weekend’s home game against Salernitana and Angel Di Maria said the defeat was his fault after being sent off with five minutes from the break with an elbow jab became.
Fans blame the man who gave them five league titles for their team’s dismal results and performances, which left them eight and 10 points behind the leading duo.
Ahead of the game, however, Juve CEO Maurizio Arrivabene said it would be “crazy” to sack Allegri, who is contracted on a reported salary of €8m a year until 2025, and there are no signs he will be sacked any time soon target.
Monza are still in the relegation zone but ahead of Sampdoria and Cremonese, who were beaten 4-0 by Lazio, and a single point behind Verona in 17th after losing 2-0 at Fiorentina.