Back in Five: Napoli v AC Milan

For Napoli supporters of Scudetto-winning vintage, matches against AC Milan will always occupy a very special place in the heart. The Partenopei’s first title in 1986/87 came at the start of a late 80s purple patch which came to deepen Napoli’s rivalry with a giant of the north. In 1989/90, Napoli triumphed over Milan in an epic title race, but in between Milan pipped the Vesuviani in 1987/88 and the pair tussled again for second spot the following season. Napoli won the battle but lost out on a European Cup spot because third-placed Milan entered as European champions.

More recently, the reincarnated SSC Napoli have enjoyed relative success against the Rossoneri, notably at home. Here’s what happened the last five times Napoli hosted Milan in Serie A.

Napoli 2-2 Milan, 28.10.2009

Last season, the points were shared in a dramatic encounter which crammed four goals into a game in which there were 84 uninterrupted goalless minutes. Milan were 2-0 up after just six minutes, Pippo Inzaghi’s typical Super Pippo finish and Alexandre Pato’s race through the offside trap putting Leonardo’s men in the driving seat. Ignazio Abate was dismissed with four minutes left for two bookable offences and Walter Mazzarri’s side took advantage with a rousing finale. Luca Cigarini thrashed in a wonderful volley in the last minute of normal time and German Denis headed the equaliser in stoppage time.

Napoli 0-0 Milan, 22.3.2009

Milan legends Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto Donadoni, the newly-appointed Napoli coach, went head to head in Naples and their sides battled out a goalless draw in the season the Rossoneri broke back into the top four. Marek Hamsik thought he’d broken the deadlock for Napoli, turning in Marcelo Zalayeta’s header, but was wrongly called offside. The Uruguayan later missed the best chance of the game. Milan went on to finish third, level on points with second-placed Juventus, while Napoli had to settle for mid-table.

Napoli 3-1 Milan, 11.5.2008

Back in Serie A, Edy Reja’s Napoli finished a respectable eighth. Having been beaten 5-2 in a brilliant tie at San Siro, the Azzurri took their revenge at home. Marek Hamsik got the scoring underway with a phenomenal run and shot ten minutes before half time. Maurizio Domizzi got the second with 20 minutes left, making no mistake from the spot after Ezequiel Lavezzi had been fouled. György Garics put the game beyond Milan in stoppage time, but there was enough time remaining for Clarence Seedorf to pull one back for Milan, who went on to finish fifth a year after coming fourth despite their Calciopoli punishment.

Napoli 0-0 Milan, 7.4.2001

After promotion from Serie B in 1999/2000, Napoli were again relegated the following season as the club’s financial situation began to unravel. Milan again disappointed under Alberto Zaccheroni, finishing sixth and sacking the coach during and replacing him with Cesare Maldini as caretaker. The pair’s clash at San Paolo ended goalless, with the hosts playing the second half with ten men after the sending off of Salvatore Fresi for a professional foul on Andriy Shevchenko.

Napoli 1-2 Milan, 3.1.1998

In January 1998, Napoli were relegation-bound. The visit of Milan brought no joy, with Fabio Capello’s side, who would finish tenth that season and react by sacking the future England boss, taking three points back north after a 2-1 win. After a goalless first half in which Napoli created the better openings, Brazilian Leonardo (who went on to manage Milan) found the roof of the net to open the scoring from Zvonimir Boban’s lay-off. Maurizio Ganz flicked home a slightly controversial second, and Claudio Bellucci’s goal four minutes later was only a consolation.

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