AC Milan played Napoli today in the quarterfinals of the Coppa Italia, and while the two teams had played only a few days before, this match was an entirely different affair than the tight draw that took place on Saturday.
And while a Coppa Italia quarterfinals aren’t usually especially memorable matches, you will forgive Milan fans for thinking about this match differently.
Krzysztof Piatek made an immediate impact on his first start in Milan colors, scoring a brace in the first half, with two well-struck goals. It’s not fair to the Poland international to start comparing him to anyone else, but that didn’t stop the Milan faithful to start the comparisons with Andrij Shevchenko after Piatek scored two goals within the first half hour of his first start for Milan.
Piątek scores his first for Milan. What a sexy pass from Laxalt, great first touch and excellent finish. pic.twitter.com/FBL9cTvYkX— Para (@Paracelsus) January 29, 2019
Piatek opened the scoring in the 11th minute with a well-struck goal. Diego Laxalt, who was playing at left back while Ricardo Rodriguez was given the night off for a rest, picked out the run of Piatek with a beautifully weighted through ball. And as good as the pass was, the control from the Piatek’s first touch was remarkable, putting him in perfect position to make Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret look silly as he slotted the ball past the helpless keeper.
Piątek brace! Koulibaly asking for it, daring him to shoot clearly doesn’t respect him yet lmao. What a difficult finish. pic.twitter.com/34ezlzNGNT— Para (@Paracelsus) January 29, 2019
Piatek scored his second goal of the night a little more than 15 minutes later, once again controlling a long pass over the top from a teammate. This time, the pass was from the other new Milan signing, Brazil international Lucas Paqueta, who picked out Piatek streaking towards the box.
Piatek was able to stop his run, cut back and get a shot on goal off while being marked by Kalidou Koulibaly, who did well to force him to outside and force Piatek into taking a difficult shot. Unfortunately for the Napoli defender, and fortunately for Milan, Piatek thunderbolt of a shot found the far corner and doubled Milan’s lead.
Milan was up 2-0 at the half and were in pretty much total control of the match.
Napoli started to throw the kitchen sink at Milan in the second half, with some attacking substitutions and an increased effort on getting into Milan’s final third.
Gigio Donnarumma was forced into a number of good saves, including one where he had to bat down a cross from a corner kick that appeared to be goal-bound. The Rossnoeri defense also played brilliantly in front of him, as Alessio Romagnoli marshaled the defence and they forced Napoli into long-range, low percentage shots for the most part.
Tiémoué Bakayoko was also remarkable playing the defensive midfield role, and his solid play in front of the back four allowed Paqueta and Kessie to get forward, with Paqueta especially causing Napoli problems.
Piatek was subbed off in the 78th minute for Patrick Cutrone, but the damage had already been done by that point, and Milan rode out the first-half goals to a famous Coppa Italia win over Napoli to send the Rossoneri to the semifinals.