Dull Rossoneri drop two valuable points
AC Milan dropped two valuable points in the title race as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Serie A bottom-runner Salernitana on Saturday night.
Milan took the lead from the first 10 minutes thanks to a Junior Messias goal, but the home side were resolute and they leveled up when Bonazzoli netted his sixth goal of the season grabbing a misjudgment from Mike Maignan.
Salernitana then led 2-1 in the second half as Milan Djuric scored their third of the campaign via an excellent header, and although Ante Rebic’s long shot leveled it at 2-2, that’s how it was that the game would end.
It’s yet another big missed opportunity for the Rossoneri as they missed the chance to pressure Napoli and Inter in the title race.
Head coach Stefano Pioli made just one change from the starting line-up that beat Sampdoria 1-0 at the weekend as Theo Hernandez returned from suspension to take Alessandro Florenzi’s place at the left rear.
The only word to describe the atmosphere the home fans generated at Arechi Stadium would be electric as they followed their side in what was a very encouraging start, culminating when Ranieri struck one from his left-back position and that Mike Maignan made his first save.
Despite Salernitana’s brilliant opening stages, it was Milan who took the lead with their first real attack in the sixth minute. It came down a familiar route as a marauding run down the middle from Theo Hernandez found the inside move of Junior Messias, who made Sepe engage dropping his shoulder and finished smartly.
From then on, Milan started to find plenty of space behind, as first Brahim Diaz was ousted after going one-on-one with his scorer and then Rafael Leao fell victim to a a foul at the break, Sepe then being forced into a fantastic. Ismael Bennacer’s free kick saved about 20 yards from goal.
A fine link-up play between Leao and Diaz saw the latter return a ball to the former on the edge of the box in the 23rd minute, which was blocked for a corner at the end as the Rossoneri continued to build up the pressure.
There was a moment of concern for Milan when Sandro Tonali overstretched his groin, descending with some discomfort, then getting up and deciding to continue despite Franck Kessie being undressed and ready to enter.
Although things appeared to be under control for Milan, the home side equalized on the half hour mark. A half-cry for a one-end penalty was denied and Salernitana countered their right flank, crossing into a central area where Djuric and Maignan challenged for the same ball and it fell to Bonazzoli, who finished acrobatically despite Theo’s efforts to clear on the line.
There was a moment of panic inside the Salernitana box just under five minutes before the break as a clinch ball found Leao near the baseline and his reduction was on the verge to find the race for Messias, who could not regroup his effort at home.
A change occurred at the break since Franck Kessie took off his bib and entered but not in place of Tonali, in place of Bennacer who had of course been warned in the first half.
Milan were inches away from regaining the lead in controversial circumstances as Sepe showed signs of an ankle injury when a cross from the right side was met by a bicycle kick from Leao that just escaped the post.
Giroud could have scored his first Italy goal away from the San Siro when a free-kick was recycled for a second delivery which Alessio Romagnoli brought back across the net towards the Frenchman, who tried to nestle his effort inside from the far post but drifted it wide.
The former Arsenal and Chelsea man had a golden chance to smash his duck outside the Meazza when he was slipped on goal just before the hour mark, but Sepe got up well and parried his effort. Moments later, Ante Rebic entered and Brahim Diaz made way.
Maignan caused further anxiety when he decided to try and hold onto the ball too long when Bonazzoli was pressing, and he gave the ball away before Romagnoli’s bouncing header prevented a curling finish into an empty net.
Sepe almost responded with his own howl when Leao shot from 25 yards on the half-volley, although the Italian did just about enough to get behind the ball and twist it behind for a corner.
Just inside the final 20 minutes the hosts took the lead and it was the aptly named Milan Djuric who got it. A cross from Mazzocchi down the right side drifted to the center of the area where Djuric then beat Kessie to the head and powered him past a Maignan dive.
A double change came immediately after with Alexis Saelemaekers and Alessandro Florenzi replacing Messias and Calabria.
In the 78th minute the score became 2-2 and it was a fluke for Milan in truth. A long ball was knocked down by Giroud into Rebic’s path, and the Croatian shot 25 yards out with his shot taking a deflection that slipped inside the near post past a rooted Sepe.
Giroud was on the receiving end of another ball, this time from Theo on the left wing as he couldn’t quite pass the ball to head under the crossbar after beating Fazio to the ball.