AC Milan left it late as they needed an 88th minute Carlos Bacca goal to beat Cagliari 1-0 at San Siro on Sunday evening.
Gianluca Lapadula’s late feed through to the Colombian was indicative of the difference that the striker made since coming on.
Milan had dominated the game and could have won by a bigger margin, however Cagliari had a goal chalked off in controversial circumstances in the second half.
The Rossoneri began well, and forced a good save in the second minute from Rafael to deny Alessio Romagnoli’s header from a corner.
As expected, the hosts controlled the possession and Bacca could arguably have done better when he fired over in space in the 11th minute.
Gianluigi Donnarumma was forced to make a good low save in the 25th minute as Cagliari grew more confident as the half progressed.
If Niang’s effort in first half injury time (which was sliced for a throw-in) summed up Milan’s frustration, the response was good. Early in the second period Suso put in a good cross that narrowly evaded Bacca and Niang, where the slightest touch would have been a near-certain goal.
Gabriel Paletta whistled a shot wide minutes later, before another Suso cross brushed across the face of goal on the hour mark.
Cagliari thought they had taken a 68th minute lead when Mauricio Isla bundled home from close range, and though the referee had initially awarded the goal, the assistant correctly flagged for offside.
Milan must have thought their luck was out when Suso’s low shot with 12 minutes left was well saved, and Locatelli’s effort from the resulting corner was easily caught.
— SempreMilan (@SempreMilanCom) January 8, 2017
However, Vincenzo Montella’s men did snatch all three points with two minutes left; Lapadula providing the neat flick and Bacca on hand for an emphatic finish from close range.
Given earlier results, it was a crucial three points for Milan in their conquest to get back into Europe, and the relief around San Siro at full-time was evident.