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AC Milan 1-0 Napoli: Ismael Bennacer scores winner as Frank Anguissa sent off in Champions League quarter-final first leg

Match report as AC Milan win first leg of their Champions League quarter-final against runaway Serie A leaders Napoli; Ismael Bennacer scores only goal with first-half winner; Frank Anguissa sent off in the second half for two bookable offences; return leg in Naples on Tuesday

Ismael Bennacer celebrates after scoring AC Milan's first goal vs Napoli
Image: Ismael Bennacer celebrates after scoring AC Milan's winner against Napoli

Ismael Bennacer gave AC Milan a 1-0 home win over runaway Serie A leaders Napoli in the first leg of their all-Italian Champions League quarter-final, as the visitors had Frank Anguissa sent off in the second half.

Bennacer scored a first-half winner as he hammered past Alex Meret to put Milan on course for a first Champions League semi-final since 2007, when they won the competition.

Napoli, who are 22 points ahead of Milan in Serie A but were without injured star striker Victor Osimhen for the first leg, had spells of dominance at the San Siro as they saw an effort cleared off the line in the first minute and hit the bar in the second half.

Referee Istvan Kovacs from Romania, center, shows a red card to Napoli's Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, center, left, during the Champions League quarterfinal, first leg, soccer ma
Image: Frank Anguissa was sent off in the second half for Napoli

But Anguissa picked up two yellow cards in the space of three minutes and 45 seconds to see red in the 74th minute to halt their momentum, although Giovanni Di Lorenzo saw an effort well saved by Mike Maignan late on.

Milan, who also hit the bar in first-half stoppage time, will take a narrow lead to Naples for the return leg on Tuesday with Luciano Spalletti's side without both Anguissa and Min-Jae Kim for the game after the defender picked up a second-half booking.

The winner of the tie will either play Inter Milan or Benfica in the semi-finals, with Inter in control after a 2-0 first-leg win in Portugal.

How AC Milan took charge of quarter-final tie

Napoli, in the Champions League last eight for the first time, may be 16 points clear at the top of Serie A and on course for a first title since 1990 but they lost 4-0 at home to AC Milan in the league earlier this month.

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However, they started positively at the San Siro and came close to scoring after just 53 seconds as Khvicha Kvaratskhelia saw his shot cleared off the line by Davide Calabria with Mario Rui blazing over the rebound.

Milan came to life though, when Rafael Leao burst through on goal in the 25th minute only to drag his shot wide of the far post.

But 15 minutes later Leao played a huge part in Milan's opener as he collected from Brahim Diaz's superb run to play across for Bennacer who fired home, despite Meret getting a foot to it.

Milan nearly doubled their lead in first-half stoppage time as Simon Kjaer's header crashed off the underside of the bar from a corner.

Napoli hit the same bar five minutes into the second half as Eljif Elmas' flicked header was tipped onto the woodwork by Maignan.


The visitors' evening got tougher when Anguissa was sent off after being shown a second yellow for a tackle on Theo Hernandez just minutes after being booked for a foul on the same player.

Despite going a player down, Napoli pushed for an equaliser as Maignan denied Di Lorenzo before Mathias Olivera headed wide.

Spalletti: Osimhen will 100 per cent be back for return leg

A blank in Friday's 1-0 defeat to Lazio ended a run of eight goals in seven games for Osimhen
Image: Napoli forward Victor Osimhen missed the first leg with a thigh injury

Napoli's star striker Osimhen, who is Serie A's top scorer this season with 21 goals, is yet to play this month due to a thigh strain that kept him out against Milan.

But Napoli boss Luciano Spalletti says their talisman will be back for next week's return leg.

He told Sky in Italy: "The chances of him being available are 100 per cent, because the work schedule it was made in that direction.

"He was rested today and in Saturday's match to complete the work done by the doctors, then anything can happen."

Pioli: It's still 50-50

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli said:

"It's still 50-50, the result is certainly a bonus bit it doesn't change much, there's still all to play for.

"We're halfway up the mountain but normally the last few bends are the hardest to overcome. A hard match awaits us in Naples none of us think we're already through.

"I am above all happy to enjoy evenings like this with our fans. The history of Milan speaks to many Champions League victories, but the recent years saw us dream of getting here, so we wanted to enjoy it.

"We didn't build out well from the back at the start, giving Napoli the chance to hurt us, but we got the first home win over Napoli in three years."

Opta stats: Milan proving Napoli's kryptonite

  • Milan have progressed from seven of their previous nine two-legged ties in the UEFA Champions League knockout stages after winning the first leg, only failing to progress in 2003-04 v Deportivo de La Coruña (quarter-finals) and 2012-13 v Barcelona (last 16).
  • Forty per cent of Napoli's defeats this season have been against Milan (2/5), with Stefano Pioli's side the only team to beat them more than once in 2022-23. Indeed, Milan are also the only team to have stopped Napoli scoring on more than one occasion this season (4-0 win in Serie A and 1-0 tonight).
  • Milan have kept five consecutive clean sheets in the UEFA Champions League for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign under Carlo Ancelotti (a run of seven in a row).
  • Napoli have conceded six goals against Milan across all competitions in 2022-23, twice as many as they have against any other side (three against Cremonese, Ajax and Liverpool).

What's next?

The second leg takes place in Naples on April 18; kick-off 8pm.

Up next for AC Milan, they travel to Bologna in Serie A on Saturday; kick-off 2pm.

Meanwhile, league leaders Napoli host Hellas Verona, also on Saturday; kick-off 5pm.

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