Italian leagueSunday, February 9, 2014
Higuaín scores twice as Napoli beats Milan
ROME — Gonzalo Higuaín scored twice as Napoli came from behind to beat AC Milan 3-1 and reinforce its bid for a Champions League place after Fiorentina’s earlier victory over Atalanta in Serie A yesterday.
Third-place Napoli remained three points ahead of Fiorentina, which won 2-0. “We played with high intensity and skill, at a very high level,” Napoli coach Rafa Benítez said. “Higuaín is making the difference but his teammates helped him a lot. It happens that you make mistakes in some matches but today we saw a team that is growing.”
Adel Taarabt took less than eight minutes of his Serie A debut to fire Milan in front, racing half the length of the pitch before curling a wonderful finish into the bottom right corner.
Gokhan Inler levelled three minutes later with a deflected effort into the top right corner.
Higuaín had an effort ruled marginally offside and Cristian Maggio hit the post as Napoli threatened to take the lead on several occasions.
The home side finally made the most of its opportunities 11 minutes after halftime when Higuaín, who had been threatening all night, headed home a delightful cross from Inler.
The Argentine doubled his tally eight minutes from time to take his season tally to 16 in all competitions.
Shortly beforehand, Mario Balotelli broke down in tears on the bench after being substituted off following a below-par performance from the Italy striker.
“Everyone expresses emotions in that way,” Milan coach Clarence Seedorf said. “It’s not the first time it’s happened to a player.”
It was Seedorf’s first league defeat of his fledgling managerial career.
Also, Udinese beat Chievo Verona 3-0 in a relegation battle. Josip Ilicic broke the deadlock in Florence in the 16th minute when he curled a superb free kick into the near top right corner from 25 metres.
Atalanta’s hopes of getting anything from the match all but evaporated when it was reduced to 10 men nine minutes from time following Luca Cigarini’s second booking.
Substitute Rafal Wolski sealed the match in the 86th, racing almost half the length of the pitch and holding off defenders before firing across into the bottom left corner for his first Serie A goal.
Udinese had lost four of its past five Serie A matches, while Chievo was without a win in its past seven, scoring only four goals during that period.