Milan made it three Serie A games without victory as they were held to a 1-1 draw against a battling Udinese side at San Siro on Tuesday night.
Following some poor form, fans of the Rossoneri would have hoped for some early answers in response to previous poor results as their side continue their challenge for Champions League qualification. They were, however presented with more problems than answers for the majority of the first 45, as key figures Gianluigi Donnarumma and Lucas Paqueta limped off with injuries.
Striker Krzysztof Piatek however ensured that the home faithful would head into the half time break happy. The in-form Pole linked up fantastically with strike partner Patrick Cutrone to bag the opening goal of the game for Milan, showing incredible reactions to head in Cutrone’s cross at the second attempt after his first effort was saved by Juan Musso.
A rapid counterattack from Udinese levelled the game midway through the second half. An unsuccessful Milan corner saw the visitors find an opportunity to break at pace, with midfielder Seko Fofana breaking through the Milan back line before squaring to Kevin Lasagna to rifle home an unexpected equaliser past Reina.
Lasagna’s goal proving enough to earn relegation threatened Udinese a shock point at the San Siro, and through Milan’s Champions League qualification credentials into further jeopardy.
Here is our breakdown of the Serie A encounter.
Key Talking Point
Two league defeats on the bounce would have been concerning for Gennaro Gattuso, who reacted by changing his tactics slightly for the visit of Udinese to counter recent poor performances.
The Italian opted for a front two, with Cutrone supporting Piatek in leading the Milan line, and his decision was vindicated by the pair’s link up play for the games opening goal.
It seemed as though complacency got the better of Gattuso’s team, as they looked comfortable at a goal up with Udinese sitting back and accepting endless Milan attacks. The Rossoneri however showed some tactical naivety as they looked increasing open at the back when Udinese finally looked to launch their own attacks.
Starting XI – Donnarumma (N/A), Abate (6), Romagnoli (6), Musacchio (6), Laxalt (5), Bakayoko (7), Biglia (5), Paqueta (6), Calhanoglu (6), Cutrone (7), Piatek (7)
Substitutes – Reina (6), Castillejo (5), Calabria (5)
Star Man – Patrick Cutrone
The Italian grabbed an assist on his return to the team and looked to have reinvigorated Krzysztof Piatek by supplying him with some much needed support.
The 21-year-old was industrious in supplying his strike partner with chances, which helped to change the face of Milan’s attack from the benign one which had played during their defeat to Sampdoria.
Key Talking Point
When battling to avoid relegation, points away at the so-called ‘bigger’ clubs are somewhat of an unexpected bonus.
Who knows how important Kevin Lasagna’s second half strike could prove to be in maintaining Udinese’s Serie A status? However it is definitely an unexpected boost for the league strugglers.
Starting XI – Musso (6), Samir (5), Opoku (5), De Maio (5), Avest (5), Fofana (6), Behrami (5), De Paul (7), Zeegelaar (5), Lasagna (6), Pussetto (5)
Substitutes – Wilmot (6), Okaka (6), Mandragora (6)
Star Man – Rodrigo De Paul
During a tough first half, Rodrigo De Paul worked hard to relieve pressure on his defenders through hard work and his fantastic dribbling ability. However, once the shackles came off during the second half, as manager Tudor switched to a more attacking system in search of a goal, De Paul’s technical ability truly came to the fore. The Argentine was a prominent figure in creating opportunities for his team, rather than just keeping the ball from Milan’s attackers.
Milan face a huge challenge in their next Serie A fixture, as they travel to the Juventus Stadium to face Massimiliano Allegri’s runaway league leaders. Gennaro Gattuso will look to grab a shock result against the Bianconeri to help open a gap between themselves and their closest rivals in the race for Champions League qualification.
Igor Tudor’s Udinese face Empoli in a huge relegation battle showdown at the Friuli Stadium in Serie A on Sunday afternoon.