Champions AC Milan have prevailed in the Italian Champions League quarter-finals and are in the last four of the premier class for the first time in 16 years. The seven-time title holder handed in the second leg at the sovereign Serie A leaders SSC Napoli 1-1 (1-0) after winning the first leg (1-0). Veteran Olivier Giroud (43rd) scored the goal for the guests in front of 52,728 spectators at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
The Frenchman had previously failed with a penalty kick on keeper Alex Meret (22nd). Meret’s opponent Mike Maignan saved a hand penalty from Napoli’s winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (82′) in the closing stages, but the equalizer from the much-coveted striker Victor Osimhen (90’+3′) came too late. In the semi-finals, Milan will face either Inter in the explosive city derby or Benfica Lisbon, coached by Roger Schmidt.
The Italians go into the home game on Wednesday (9 p.m. / DAZN) with a 2-0 lead. Osimhen, who missed the first leg with an adductor problem, returned to the starting XI at Napoli. Spurred on by the presence of the Nigerian, the SSC started very powerfully, only the compelling scoring chances were missing. After a good 20 minutes, however, Milan received a penalty, after Napoli defender Mario Rui put Rafael Leao in the penalty area.
But Giroud failed with his weak attempt. Shortly before the break, the 2018 French world champion did better. Leao started a great solo in his own half, arrived in the opponent’s penalty area and the Portuguese only had to cross to Giroud. In the second round, Kvaratskhelia narrowly missed after a few seconds from an acute angle (46′). The SSC then pushed on, but Milan threw everything against it. In the final minutes, Kvaratskhelia missed another chance from the point before Osimhen’s injury-time header came too late.