AC Milan extended their unbeaten league run to 20 games as they overcame Napoli 3-1, beating the Partenopei for the first time in the Serie A in a decade.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was, yet again, the star of the show as he scored a brace to extend AC Milan’s lead at the top of the table with an impressive win over Napoli. It was an end to end start to the game with both teams getting opportunities to score. It was Ibrahimovic who ultimately found the back of the net with a sensational header converting a Theo Hernandez cross.

Just as Napoli were fighting back, testing Gianluigi Donnarumma, Milan scored another goal with a slick counter attack. Ante Rebic went on a terrific run and crossed the ball into the six-yard box for Ibrahimovic to double their lead. Napoli responded with a goal from close range and continued to come close till the twilight stages of the game.

As Napoli looked as though they were getting back in the game, Jens Petter Hauge scored in the 94th minute and sealed the deal. AC Milan earned a hard-fought and rare away win versus Napoli and deservedly kept their spot at the top of the Serie A. It was an impressive performance from a team who were without their manager Stefano Pioli. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over both sets of players.

Napoli

Alex Meret: 6/10

Made a couple of smart saves at the start, but could do very little about the first and second goal. Arguably should have done better for the third.

Giovanni Di Lorenzo: 5/10

A difficult night for Di Lorenzo who was completely skinned throughout the night by the AC Milan duo of Rebic and Theo Hernandez. All three goals come for Napoli’s right side.

Kostas Manolas: 5/10

Was the main defender for the night as Koulibaly often ventured forward. Manolas did not make any costly errors in the first two goals, but would feel that he could have done better to stop Milan’s young Hague from scoring the third. Overall a disappointing day at the office for him.

Kalidou Koulibaly: 5/10

His moment of hesitation for the first goal allowed Ibrahimovic to get in front of him and after that, there was no coming back for the experienced centre-back. Despite not having the best of defensive nights, Koulibaly often created passing outlets further up the pitch and even played as a target-man at times. His positioning did leave Napoli exposed on the odd occasion, though.

Mario Rui: 6/10

Did well to prevent any major threats from Milan’s right side. Also gave the assist for Napoli’s goal. Mario Rui would feel that he could have done better to track back and prevent the second, but he was the better defender of the lot for the night.

Hirving Lozano: 5/10

Not the best of nights for the Mexican. Lozano was largely ineffective, only troubling the keeper once. Ultimately subbed off at the hour mark.

Fabian Ruiz: 6/10

Recycled possession well, but was not allowed to express himself much as he was often left covering for the more advanced Koulibaly. Came much more into the game in the second half as Napoli exerted pressure upon Milan.

Tiemoue Bakayoko: 4/10

Arguably a harsh sending off for Bakayoko as the first yellow card was never a foul. The Frenchman was on the tightrope with that early yellow and committed a silly foul for his second. He did well to dispossess Franck Kessie for Napoli’s only goal though. Nonetheless, a terrible night for him.

Matteo Politano: 6/10

Politano put in a real shift for Napoli with his clever movement and hard work. Although his inability to get a goal contribution let the team down.

Lorenzo Insigne: 6/10

A game of two halves for Napoli’s captain. Insigne was largely ineffective in the first half courtesy of Milan right-back Davide Calabria. However, Insigne did well to up the ante in the second half as Napoli looked close to making a comeback.

Dries Mertens: 7/10

Mertens started the game off well, testing Donnarumma a couple of times. Ultimately grabbed the goal in the second half to instigate the fightback. Could not get a point for his team, though, and would be rightly disappointed.

SUBSTITUTES

Piotr Zielinski: 5/10

Helped Bakayoko win the ball for Napoli’s only goal and gave the pre-assist to Mario Rui on the left.

Andrea Petagna: 6/10

His movement was very clever as he caused Alessio Romagnoli all kinds of problems after coming on. For all the brilliant off-the-ball movement, Petagna failed to find the right finish. He had some good chances to help Napoli comeback.

Eljif Elmas: N/A

Did not play enough to warrant a rating.

AC Milan

Gianluigi Donnarumma: 7/10

Made some terrific saves in the first and second half. His effort in stopping the only goal conceded was commendable too. Overall a dominant performance by the Italian number one.

Davide Calabria: 6/10

Calabria marshalled the dangerous Insigne well for large parts of the game. We did not see the adventurous side of the Italian right-back, but he did his basics right and did the needful.

Simon Kjaer: 6/10

The better of the two centre-backs, Kjaer sniffed out danger well on several occasions and kept the goal scoring opportunities limited for Napoli. The Dane made 8 clearances and won all his aerial duels.

Alessio Romagnoli: 5/10

Not the best of games for the Milan captain. Romagnoli allowed the ball to get to Mertens too easily which led to the Napoli goal. He was also caught out by some long balls in behind the defence which could have hurt Milan in the second half.

Theo Hernandez: 7/10

Theo Hernandez had a fantastic game on the left hand side. Kept Hirving Lozano at bay and caused all sorts of problems while going forward himself. Assisted the first goal, and drew Bakayoko’s second yellow.

Ismael Bennacer: 7/10

Bennacer assisted the third goal for AC Milan when Hague caught Napoli out in a typical swift Milan transition. Did well in the midfield battle, winning 10 ground duels. He was also good on the ball, but would have liked to further impose his presence on the game.

Franck Kessie: 6/10

Not the best of games for Kessie as he lost the ball in a dangerous area, which led to the Napoli goal. Despite his error, Kessie made some key interceptions and played some neat passes.

Alexis Saelemaekers: 6/10

Saelemaekers was reportedly not fully fit before the game and that showed. He was largely uninspiring, losing the ball cheaply and not creating anything as such. Was the first player to be substituted.

Hakan Calhanoglu: 7/10

It was yet another creative display by Calhanoglu, whose pass to set Rebic off for the second was simply sublime. Calhanoglu was key in Milan’s transitions and even tested Meret himself. Ended the night with a pass completion rate of 95%

Ante Rebic: 8/10

Rebic earned his first start of the season due to an injury to Rafael Leao, but truly showed his worth. Rebic combined well with Zlatan, making clever runs. His marauding run in the lead-up to the second goal deserves a lot of applause as he skinned Manolas and put it on a plate for Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: 9/10

The star of the night and AC Milan’s season. 39-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic was once again among the thick of things and his brace sent Milan clear of their opponents. The technique on his header for the first goal was stellar and it was an imposing performance by the Swede. Unfortunately, he picked up an injury towards the end of the game. Milan would be hoping it’s nothing serious as they enter a long run of fixtures now.

SUBSTITUTES

Samu Castillejo: 5/10

Came on for the struggling Saelemaekers, but did not particularly improve on his performance. Largely anonymous.

Lorenzo Colombo: 6/10

Replaced Zlatan and came close to scoring the third before it was actually scored.

Jens Petter Hauge: 7/10

Hague did well to beat Manolas in a one on one situation and scored the third goal in the dying minutes of the game. It was a fantastic cameo for the 21-year-old, and he would be looking to build on this performance.

Rade Krunic: N/A

Did not play enough to warrant a rating.

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