Milan claimed all three points in a tight affair at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, as I Rossoneri ground out a hard-fought 2-1 win over Genoa on Saturday evening.
The hosts took the lead just before half-time, Lasse Schone firing a long-range free kick towards goal which bobbled beyond a sheepish Pepe Reina. Milan boss Marco Giampaolo made a double substitution at half time which paid instant dividends; Theo Hernandez equalising on 52 minutes, and Franck Kessie converting a penalty following a handball by Davide Biraschi.
Biraschi received a red card for his foul play, and Milan full-back Davide Calabria was also shown red soon after to level the match at ten men apiece.
Milan were edging towards victory when Reina was harshly adjudged to have fouled Cristian Kouame in the 90th minute, and the hosts were handed a lifeline. Reina made amends for his previous error, saving Schone’s penalty and earning all three points for away side.
Starting XI: Radu (5); Romero (6), Zapata (5), Criscito (N/A); Ghiglione (6), Lerager (6), Radovanovic (6), Schöne (6), Pajac (6); Kouamé (7), Pinamonti (6)
Substitutes: Biraschi (4), Favilli (5), Pandev (7)
Key Talking Point
Ah VAR, you are as tiresome as you are confusing sometimes. The game turned on its head inside five minutes, when Milan equalised early in the second half and then pushed to take the lead. An exciting attack broke down for the away side, but VAR reared its ugly screen, and handed Marco Giampaolo a much-needed lifeline.
It has been a great response from Milan since half time. The ref has given us a huge favour with that red card to Biraschi.
But you have to wonder why Paquetá and Leão didn’t start -P.c
— Milan Club Melbourne (@milanmelbourne) October 5, 2019
Rafael Leao flicked the ball beyond Davide Biraschi, who somehow managed to steer the ball away from the striker. As replays clearly showed, Biraschi’s outstretched arm denied Milan a goalscoring opportunity, and the man in the middle decided a straight red card was the necessary punishment. Harsh, to say the least. Kessie converted from the spot and Milan took the lead.
Giampaolo lives to fight another day, and the Milan boss will be toasting to technology.
Starting XI: Reina (7); Calabria (6), Léo Duarte (7), Romagnoli (7), Theo Hernández (7); Kessié (7), Biglia (7), Çalhanoğlu (4); Suso (7), Piątek (4), Bonaventura (8).
Substitutes: Leao (9*), Paqueta (8), Conti (6)
STAR MAN – How did this guy not play from the beginning? Rafael Leao has impressed whenever he’s taken to the pitch for Milan this season, but the former Lille man inexplicably found himself on the bench on Saturday evening. That didn’t last long though.
Leao is fabulous. What a difference he makes. The first touch, the pace, flair. Frontline suddenly feels alive.
— Matteo Bonetti (@BonettiESPN) October 5, 2019
With Milan behind at half time, Giampaolo turned to Leao to try and change his side’s fortunes, and it worked wonders. The 20-year-old caused all sorts of problems for the Genoa defence, and won the penalty which put Milan ahead only 12 minutes after his introduction.
What a talent this boy is.
Genoa travel to Parma after the international break, hoping to change their fortunes and escape the relegation zone following a poor start to the season.
Milan face one of their easier tasks of the season in two weeks time, when I Rossoneri host newly-promoted Lecce at San Siro.