El Shaarawy earns Milan a point
Last Updated: 17/11/12 11:06pm
Marek Hamsik on the ball for Napoli
Stephan El Shaarawy rode to AC Milan's rescue once again as his clinical strikes earned a 2-2 draw at Napoli.
Napoli's Gokhan Inler and Lorenzo Insigne scored against the ailing Italian giants early on and for a long time it looked like Massimiliano Allegri's men were heading towards their seventh defeat of the season.
But El Shaarawy took matters into his own hands, slashing Napoli's lead in half with a cool finish before the break and earning a point with his 10th goal of the season as time ticked away at the San Paolo.
Failure to claim all three points leaves Walter Mazzarri's Napoli side five points adrift of league leaders Juventus, while Milan move into 10th place for the time being.
There was no one more surprised than visiting goalkeeper Christian Abbiati when Inler opened the scoring with just four minutes on the clock.
The stand-in Rossoneri captain had no real reason not to claim what had been a speculative effort at best, instead letting the ball squirm underneath him after Inler had picked his spot from long range.
Riccardo Montolivo berated himself after slipping at the worst possible time when trying to slot Kevin-Prince Boateng's pass beyond Morgan De Sanctis, but Milan had worse problems when Marek Hamsik unleashed Insigne at the other end.
Abbiati may have been equal to the young striker's effort on that occasion, but Insigne came back with a vengeance to punish another Milan mistake on the half-hour mark.
The faintest of deflections off Francesco Acerbi was enough for Abbiati to allow Insigne's low drive to bobble between his legs and into the net.
Milan had clearly not learned their lesson and a howler of a backpass from Kevin Constant almost allowed Insigne to make it 3-0, but he decided to pass to a well-marked Edinson Cavani instead of beating a stranded Abbiati.
All too often this season Milan have looked to the mercurial El Shaarawy for answers and his sumptuous strike one minute before the break was just what the visitors needed.
The Italy international executed a deft sidefooted shot from the edge of the area, the ball arcing over the Napoli backline to float beyond De Sanctis and nestle into the back of the net.
Bojan Krkic failed to sparkle like his team-mate when play resumed, instead spooning his shot into no-man's-land following an exquisite series of one-twos with Montolivo.
Milan were soon slacking again and Abbiati was the last man standing when his defence disappeared in the 64th minute, but the goalkeeper got down to repel Cavani's first-time shot with his legs.
Napoli smelled blood in the water and Hamsik just needed a little more accuracy after being teed up by Cavani, with Abbiati then repelling what should have been the hosts' third goal with another firm stop from the hungry Cavani.
But with nine minutes remaining, El Shaarawy took it upon himself to stem the tide, bringing the ball out of his own half and waltzing through the final third to slot the ball past De Sanctis with minimal fuss.
Against all odds it looked like Milan would snatch victory at the death but De Sanctis got across to snaffle El Shaarawy's angled drive and the points were shared.
Italy Serie A