Napoli earn late draw as AC Milan progress to semi-finals

Quarter-final 2nd leg

SSC Napoli 1-1 AC Milan (Agg. 1-2)

Olivier Giroud fired AC Milan into the Champions League semi-finals and a potential derby clash with arch-rivals Inter as his goal secured an aggregate victory over Napoli.

The Frenchman, who had earlier seen a penalty saved, struck two minutes before the break in a 1-1 draw at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona on a night when international team-mate Mike Maignan saved a late Khvicha Kvaratskhelia spot-kick before Victor Osimhen reduced the deficit in stoppage time.

Serie A leaders Napoli, who lost 4-0 at home to Milan in the league on 2 April, set out in determined fashion with Mario Rui seeing an early free-kick defected wide before Kvaratskhelia tested goalkeeper Maignan after cutting inside from the left.

However, Milan were presented with a glorious opportunity to double their aggregate advantage when Rui’s clumsy challenge on Rafael Leao prompted referee Szymon Marciniak to point to the spot, only for keeper Alex Meret to save Giroud’s 22nd-minute penalty.

Giroud celebrates the decisive goal.

The France international had his head in his hands once again six minutes later after Meret had blocked his goal-bound shot with his legs as the home side, who had lost both Mateo Politano and Rui to injury by the 34th minute, were hit repeatedly on the break.

They were finally made to pay two minutes before the break when Giroud rounded off Leao’s brilliant solo run with an emphatic finish to edge the visitors closer to the last four.

Kvaratskhelia skied a shot from a tight angle over the bar after carving his way superbly into the penalty area seconds after the restart, and the Georgia international was similarly wasteful after repeating the feat with 58 minutes gone.

But his clearest opportunity came nine minutes from time when, after defender Fikayo Tomori had been penalised for handball, he sent the resulting spot-kick low to to Maignan’s right, only to see him make a fine save and although Osimhen finally beat him at the death, there was no way back.

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