Stephan El Shaarawy inspired Milan to a stirring fightback as they came from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Napoli in Serie A.
Fortuitous goals from Gokhan Inler – his first for Napoli – and Lorenzo Insigne put the hosts two goals up but a fantastic strike from El Shaarawy pulled one back for Milan just before half-time.
Both sides could have added more goals before the young Italy forward levelled with eight minutes remaining after a fine pass from Robinho, whose late introduction was a game changer.
Either team could have won it in the latter stages, with El Shaarawy missing a good chance as Robinho pulled the strings, but a draw was ultimately the fair result and one which sees Napoli stay third and Milan ensconced in lower-mid-table.
The Rossoneri, who made a handful of changes after the 3-1 home defeat to Fiorentina, started promisingly as some incisive one-touch passing seemed to be carving the hosts apart.
But Napoli were gifted an early lead when a blunder from Abbiati allowed Inler’s long-range daisy cutter to fly in.
There was a slight swerve on the ball but the tame effort was essentially straight at Milan’s long-serving keeper, who flapped aimlessly as it nestled in the back of the net on four minutes.
The visitors did not seem too dented by the nature of that goal and they were inches away from levelling soon afterwards when Riccardo Montolivo dragged his finish just wide after good work from Kevin-Prince Boateng.
But it was Napoli who added to their lead, with a touch of good fortune as Insigne’s low shot took a wicked deflection off Francesco Acerbi to fly through the legs of the wrong-footed Abbiati.
That sparked a panic in the visitors’ defence and there should have been a third just afterwards when Insigne exploited poor defending from Kevin Constant but was unable to finish past Abbiati.
Going forward Milan were still dangerous, El Shaarawy agonisingly close to converting a Boateng through-ball.
He made no mistake just before the break when, with a dip of the shoulders and a ferocious first-time effort with his right instep, he sent a brilliant curling effort into the top left from outside the area.
That made for an entertaining second half which started slowly before taking off just before the hour mark when Bojan toe-poked well wide after a sweeping move with Montolivo.
Napoli fired a trio of warning shots at Milan as a wicked low Marek Hamsik ball just evaded the sliding Insigne, before a Philippe Mexes slip allowed Edinson Cavani to unleash a rasping drive that Abbiati saved with his legs.
Hamsik then missed a great chance to add a third as he fired over after Cavani beat the lumbering Mexes to a high ball, but these chances were coming on the break as Milan committed men forward.
Bojan was denied by a fantastic tackle from Hugo Campagnaro, while Alessandro Gamberini almost sliced into his own net under pressure from the Rossoneri.
It was surprising that Massimiliano Allegri took so long to introduce poacher Giampaolo Pazzini, with the Italy striker entering with a quarter of an hour left.
But it was the impact of another substitute that truly changed the game as, with 10 minutes left, forgotten man Robinho entered the fray.
With pretty much his first touch the Brazilian forward unleashed a fabulous through-ball to split the Napoli defence, a pass latched on to by El Shaarawy, who delivered a clinical first-time finish into the bottom right.
There were still seven minutes to play and the game was very open – and Milan could have won it when El Shaaraway somewhat greedily elected to shoot instead of roll it across to Pazzini, again after fine build-up play from Robinho.
But the spoils were shared in another result that plays into the hands of second-placed Internazionale, who can cut the gap on leaders Juventus to two points if they beat Cagliari on Sunday.
- Sports & Recreation
- Lorenzo Insigne