Milan - AC Milan coach Sinisa Mihajlovic insists the fallen
Serie A giants can fight for a place in next season's Champions League after a
battling 1-1 draw with Napoli that dented their opponents' title hopes.
Napoli welcomed Milan to the San Paolo on Monday looking to
capitalise on Juventus's stalemate at Bologna on Friday with a win that would
have sent them a point clear of Juve at the top.
But despite a dominant performance, Maurizio Sarri's title
challengers had to settle for a sixth draw of the campaign that left them in
second place at a point behind the champions.
Adding to the hosts' woes ahead of what should be a
mouthwatering race for the title, Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain, who has 24
goals on his league account, failed to score in back-to-back Serie A games for
the first time this season.
Milan remain sixth, eight points behind third-placed
Fiorentina in the last possible Champions League qualifying place.
Mihajlovic, whose side remain unbeaten after seven league
games in 2016, told Sky Sport: "They dominated the game but we had planned
for that, otherwise it would have been impossible for us.
"After seven games so far this year we've picked up a
lot of points. If we keep on playing with this kind of intensity and
concentration, we can fight for third place."
Also read: ‘Overweight’ Balotelli not ready - Mihajlovic
Milan started brightly but it was Napoli who broke the
deadlock, on 39 minutes, when Lorenzo Insigne's shot deflected off the legs of
Ignazio Abate to leave teenaged goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma scrambling at
his far post.
Donnarumma has been solid for Milan since pushing Diego
Lopez down the pecking order, and Mihajlovic said he could not fault the
"I didn't see the goal, but I think if Gigi didn't
manage to get it, no one would have," he added.
To their credit, Milan restored parity almost immediately.
Jose Callejon had failed to track back to pick up Giacomo
Bonaventura and when Kalidou Koulibaly inadvertently nodded Keisuke Honda's
cross towards the back post, Bonaventura sent a volley past Pepe Reina.
Napoli had the lion's share of the best chances in the
second half but Donnarumma was decisive in the dying minutes.
Donnarumma, who will celebrate his 17th birthday on
Thursday, did well to intercept Faouzi Ghoulam's cross for Higuain as the
Argentine ran in on goal.
Callejon was replaced by Dries Mertens just after the hour
and only minutes after his arrival the Belgian international spurned a great
chance when he struck Elseid Hysaj's daisycutter off the far post.
Mihajlovic replaced a tiring Bacca with French forward
Minutes later Higuain beat Zapata to a cross from the left
to fire a deflected shot just wide of the upright.
When left-back Luca Antonelli blocked Mertens's cross for
Higuain, Milan launched a counter that saw Menez set up Niang, but the
Frenchman's angled strike curled wide of the far post.
Mihajlovic replaced Niang with on-loan Liverpool striker
Mario Balotelli for the last five minutes but it was Honda who tested Reina
with a curling shot that forced the Spanish keeper to save low at his near
Sarri, who was sent off a quarter-hour from the end for
dissent, praised his players despite the disappointment.
"I can't fault the lads' performance, we didn't give a
lot to Milan and we created several real chances," said the Italian.
"But it came to a certain point in the game where we
were just lacking that extra ingredient."For
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