AC Milan’s search for their first Champions League title since 2007 continues after a 1-1 draw with Napoli in the semi-finals. Olivier Giroud scored in the first half to enhance Milan’s aggregate lead, but Victor Osimhen’s late header was unable to advance the hosts.
First semifinals in 16 years for AC Milan
With a 1-1 draw against Napoli in a dramatic quarter-final second leg, AC Milan moved to the Champions League semifinals for the first time since winning the competition 16 years ago. Olivier Giroud’s first-half goal gave the seven-time European winners a 2-1 aggregate victory. After Rafael Leao’s spectacular run, which reminded me of George Weah’s solo goal for Milan against Verona in 1996, the Frenchman scored. Napoli dominated the game but failed to capitalize on numerous opportunities, including a penalty saved by Milan goalie Mike Maignan. Victor Osimhen’s injury-time header gave Napoli hope, but it was too late for Luciano Spalletti’s team.
Milan might face Inter Milan in the last four, as their local rivals lead Benfica 2-0 going into Wednesday’s second leg. Milan coach Stefano Pioli stated that a semi-final against Inter would be ideal. “We’ve done a great deal and don’t want to stop now,” he told Mediaset.
A missed penalty put the nail in the coffin
Napoli dominated the first half but trailed on aggregate after Giroud’s goal. Milan defended deep and rode their luck, with Napoli missing a number of chances, including a penalty. The home team fought to the finish, but Osimhen’s late header was insufficient to advance them to the semi-finals.
Napoli, who are set to win their first Serie A title since 1990, were playing in their first European Cup quarter-final, and expectations were high. Still, they failed to convert their chances, and injuries to Mario Rui and Matteo Politano added to their woes. Napoli had beaten Milan in the league earlier this season but lost to them twice in April, including a 1-0 defeat in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie.
Milan’s Champions League win comes after a poor domestic season in which they are expected to be dethroned as Serie A champions by Napoli. They have been concentrating on the Champions League, resting all ten of their outfield players in their recent league tie with Bologna. Their tenacious defense against Napoli speaks well for their chances of winning the Champions League for the first time in 16 years.
Milan’s victory over Napoli was a testament to their resiliency and determination.Despite facing a squad in excellent form and topping the Serie A table, Milan never lost focus and executed their game plan to perfection. They knew they had to defend well and take advantage of their few opportunities, and that’s exactly what they did. The victory sends a clear message to the other Champions League teams that Milan is a force to be reckoned with and should not be underestimated.