Serie A: AC Milan beat Salernitana to close gap on leaders Napoli

Rafael Leao of AC MIlan competes for the ball with Ivan Radovanovic of Salernitana, during the Serie A match between Salernitana and AC MIlan at Stadio Arechi on January 4, 2023 in Salerno, Italy. 

AC Milan won 2-1 at Salernitana on Wednesday to resume the Serie A season by closing to within five points of league leaders Napoli.

First-half strikes from Rafael Leao and Sandro Tonali in Salerno moved the champions up to 36 points, closing the gap on Napoli who face Inter Milan at the San Siro in the day’s late match.

Federico Bonazzoli pulled a goal back with seven minutes remaining for mid-table Salernitana after new goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa made a host of saves to deny Milan a wider margin of victory at the Stadio Arechi.

Veteran Mexico international Ochoa moved to the southern Italian club, on 17 points, last month and made his first start in the absence of the injured Luigi Sepe.

Ochoa kept out Leao with an early one-on-one stop before the Portugal international rolled in his 10th-minute opener after skipping round the 37-year-old.

He also saved Tonali’s curling effort just seconds before the Italy midfielder lashed in first time to double the away side’s lead in the 15th minute.

From there Milan should have added more but Ochoa pulled off smart stops to deny Olivier Giroud and Theo Hernandez — who should have done better with his lazy one-on-one finish — in the space of a minute.

After Brahim Diaz had a third for Milan ruled out for offside, Ochoa made a superb double save from Giroud and Charles De Ketelaere with eight minutes left.

And seconds later Federico Bonazzoli lashed in Lassana Coulibaly’s deep cross to give the home side some hope.

However it was Ochoa who was the busier of the two ‘keepers as Milan comfortably held out to claim the points.

Manolo Gabbiadini scored a spectacular bicycle kick as Sampdoria claimed just their second win of the season, 2-1 at Sassuolo.

Gabbiadini hooked in Samp’s opener in the 25th minute and Tomasso Augello netted the decisive second three minutes later to move to within four points of Spezia, who sit just outside the relegation zone and host Atalanta.

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