A freak own goal secured victory over Fiorentina for AC Milan and quite possibly kept their title hopes alive at the San Siro on Sunday evening.
Two minutes into injury time, Aster Vranckx’s hopeful cross was missed by Viola stopper Pietro Terracciano and then knocked into his own goal by Nikola Milenkovic, under pressure from Divock Origi.
Milan could not have had a better start when Rafael Leao took a ball thirty yards from goal and drove into the penalty area before guiding a shot past Terracciano.
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After this point, Fiorentina dominated the first half and were full value of the equaliser which came when Antonin Barak turned in the box and saw his low effort deflect off Malick Thiaw and squirm under the body of Ciprian Tatarasanu.
Before the dramatic ending, Milan twice went close to restoring the lead, just before the interval when Brahim Diaz clipped the ball over the Fiorentina keeper but Lorenzo Venuti cleared off the line and when Leao blazed over from 12 yards with just the keeper to beat 11 minutes from time.
The win means Milan will be eight points behind Napoli when Serie A resumes in 2023, rather than a double digit deficit.
A serious escape – With a spine of Tatarasanu, Fikayo Tomori, Sandro Tonali and Brahim Diaz all not going to the World Cup, as well as fans not having to worry about switching premier allegiance to the Azzuri, there was little reason for Milan to put in a poor performance here. But until the dying seconds it appeared for the second game in succession, after a goalless draw at Cremonese, they would drop points which a title challenger should not do. Milan will be the team Napoli fear the most going into the closing stages of the season, especially if the Rossoneri add to their attack in January transfer window, but a ten-point deficit would surely have Stefano Pioli’s side not believing they could close the gap on the Neapolitan outfit. As good as this result was for keeping the Scudetto race alive, it was not one Milan deserved.
AC Milan’s Portuguese forward Rafael Leao celebrates after opening the scoring during the Italian Serie A football match between AC Milan and Fiorentina on November 13, 2022 at the San Siro stadium in Milan. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)
Image credit: Getty Images
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Cristiano Biraghi (Fiorentina) – The wing back was a thorn in the Milan side for much of the game going forward and stopped a great deal of Milan attack coming down the right flank until the crucial cross in the closing minute. He was inches from putting Fiorentina level in the eighth minute and the source of creativity throughout the Viola’s dominance in the first half.
Milan: Tatarușanu 6; Kalulu 7, Thiaw 6, Tomori 7, Theo Hernandez 6; Bennacer 6, Tonali 6; Krunic 6, Brahim Diaz 6, Rafael Leao 7; Giroud 6.
Subs: Origi 6, Dest 6, Vranckx 7, Rebic 6.
Fiorentina: Terracciano 5; Dodo 6, Milenkovic 5, Igor 6, Biraghi 8*; Amrabat 6, Mandragora 6; Saponara 6; Ikone 7, Barak 7, Arthur Cabral 6.
Subs: Venuti 7, Jovic 6, Duncan 6, Terzic 6, Kouame 6.
2′ GOAL FOR MILAN! Rafael Leao scores after 90 seconds. He burst through the Fiorentina defence, picking up the ball 35 yards out then driving into the area and steering it inside the far post.
8′ BIRAGHI’S EFFORT COMES BACK OFF THE POST! Fiorentina have dominated after Milan’s early lead and here Barak set up Biraghi who almost levelled the scoreline.
28′ GOAL FOR FIORENTINA! That was coming. And deserved! Barak spun 180 degrees and drove a low shot at goal which deflected off the leg of Thiaw and slipped under the Milan keeper’s dive.
45′ CLEARED OFF THE LINE! Diaz weaves his way through and gets the ball over the goalkeeper but Venuti makes an excellent clearance to save a goal.
71′ NEARLY AN OWN GOAL FROM KALULU! Nice interplay on the edge of the box involving Barak set up a scoring chance for Jovic but Kalulu got to the ball first and only a lunge to the left from Tatarusanu denied the visitors a goal.
79′ WHAT A MISS FROM LEAO! A through-ball towards Origi was diverted to Leao 12 yards from goal with just the keeper to beat but he blazed over the bar.
90+2′ GOAL FOR MILAN! A freak winning goal for Milan which is so harsh on Fiorentina. Somehow The cross from Vranckx was missed by the Fiorentina keeper and then it deflected in off Milenkovic at the back post.
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