VAR helps Napoli to Serie A win over Milan

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Eljif Elmas of SSC Napoli in action during the Serie A match between AC Milan and SSC Napoli at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on December 19, 2021 in Milan, Italy.


Napoli have edged AC Milan 1-0 at the San Siro on Sunday to climb to second in Serie A above their opponents, with VAR taking centre stage in a dramatic finale.

Midfielder Eljif Elmas glanced a header home at the near post from a corner to stun the hosts and edge the visitors in front on five minutes, a lead Napoli held without being overly troubled until the latter stages.

Veteran Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic looked most likely to find an equaliser after going close midway through the first half and just after the break.

In the 90th minute, just as Milan looked out of ideas, Franck Kessie appeared to have snatched the hosts a point out of nowhere, sparking wild scenes of celebration.

But referee Davide Massa was asked by the video assistant referee (VAR) to have another look at the goal on the pitchside monitor, and ruled that substitute Olivier Giroud was offside when attempting to get involved in the build-up.

"I know they will say the rules were applied, but how can a player who is lying on the floor possibly damage the opponent?" Milan coach Stefano Pioli told DAZN.

"There is no way he is obstructing (defender) Juan Jesus. Giroud's legs are wide, he is trying everything to get out of the way."

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Eljif Elmas of SSC Napoli in action during the Serie A match between AC Milan and SSC Napoli at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on December 19, 2021 in Milan, Italy.

 


Napoli held on for their first win in four league games to move to 39 points, the same as the Rossoneri, but above Pioli's team on goal difference.

Both Milan and Napoli went unbeaten in their opening 12 league games of the season, but the pair's indifferent form since has opened the door for Inter Milan, who are now assured to be 'winter champions' in Italy as they lead by four points with one match to come before the Christmas break.

"It became difficult in the final minutes when Olivier Giroud added his presence to the physicality of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. But we had chances to go 2-0 up and we played like a great team against a great opponent," Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti said.

Elsewhere, Dusan Vlahovic and Lucas Torreira rescued a point for Fiorentina and moved them up to sixth after Gianluca Scamacca and Davide Frattesi put visiting Sassuolo in control.

Sampdoria and Venezia ended 1-1 after Thomas Henry's late leveller cancelled out Manolo Gabbiadini's first-minute strike.

Torino beat Verona 1-0 and Spezia drew 1-1 with Empoli to extend their winless run to eight and leave them three points above the drop zone.

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