AC Milan 0-0 Empoli: Frustrated Rossoneri drop more points in UCL race

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan dropped further points in their quest for a Champions League place as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Empoli at San Siro.

All of the major drama came in the second half as Milan had a penalty awarded that was eventually ruled out by VAR, and then Olivier Giroud thought that he had scored the winner off the bench before it was ruled out for offside.

After Inter conceded in the dying moments against Salernitana and with the other games to come this weekend it represents a blown opportunity to gain ground in the race for a top four spot.

Stefano Pioli made the rather bold decision to make five changes to the starting line-up that beat Napoli as Malick Thiaw, Alexis Saelemaekers, Tommaso Pobega, Ante Rebic and Divock Origi all came in, clearly with an eye on Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against Napoli.

Milan were the first team to threaten and they did so inside the first couple of minutes when Davide Calabria got in position to cross near the byline and he did so, but his ball in fizzed across the face at crossbar height and evaded everyone.

Milan’s first big opportunity of the game came via a double chance in the 13th minute when Perisan made a good double save. Firstly he stopped Rebic who shot pretty much straight at him with an angled drive having been found in behind, then he thwarted Theo Hernandez on the follow-up after he beat his man and fired from a narrow angle.

The game then descended into a lull in which Empoli sat deep and attempted to frustrate Milan’s build-up play while trying to spring counter-attacks where possible, but it did not make for great viewing for the near sell-out crowd at San Siro.

With 10 minutes to go before the break there was a bit of panic when Saelemaekers crossed into the box and Ebuehi eventually cleared, and then Pobega hit a rocket of a shot that sailed over the bar from 25 yards out.

The biggest chance of the first half came inside the final six minutes as Tonali was found between the Empoli lines and managed to work some space to shot, but he tried to guide it into the far corner which made it easy for Perisan to read and save.

Rebic was once again found in space in behind by a ball from Fikayo Tomori over the top in the final minute of normal time, but he let the ball bounce and fired it wildly over the ball on the half-volley.

Within three minutes of the restart another cross from Milan’s right side caused a problem, this time it was Rebic who glanced a header wide of the far post from Calabria’s whipped delivery.

The pressure continued to come from the Rossoneri as a ball fell to Pobega on the edge of the box that Pobega drilled just wide via a deflection with Perisan rooted, and then Rebic provided a low cross that Origi couldn’t quite get hold of before it was frantically cleared.

Milan had two penalty shouts turned down in very quick succession as Theo went down just inside the box asking for a spot kick and then Saelemaekers saw a fierce shot blocked and was asking for a handball that wasn’t there.

Marcenaro did point to the spot in the 59th minute for what he adjudged to be a handball on Ebuehi as he went up for a header with Rebic that seemed to ricochet, and after VAR consultation it was rightly overturned.

A double change was made just after the hour mark as Calabria and Bennacer came off and were replaced by Alessandro Florenzi and Brahim Diaz.

The big guns came on with 20 minutes left as Origi and Rebic were withdrawn in place of Olivier Giroud and Rafael Leao.

In the 76th minute Milan came as close as they had all night when a cross from Leao on the left found its way to the far side of the box where Florenzi had got forward and hit it first time but the ball crashed into the post.

Milan had a chance on the break to open the scoring as they broke from an Empoli attack and Saelemaekers saw an attempted shot blocked into the path of Giroud, who fired from a narrow angle but was unable to get it past the blocks. Moments later, Saelemaekers was replaced by his compatriot Charles De Ketelaere.

A huge chance fell to Brahim Diaz inside the box as he almost snuck the ball under the goalkeeper from deep inside the box after getting behind the Empoli defence, and moments later Leao curled a cross/shot across goal that bent wide of the far post.

Milan thought that they had won the game in the final minute of normal time when Giroud bundled in a Florenzi cross, yet the goal was rightly ruled out for an obvious handball.

Tags AC Milan Milan Empoli


  1. Lazy lazy lazy. Pioli picked a terrible team tolerates a terrible attitude from the players and drops points again. Everything Milan have achieved this year is luck Pioli out!

    1. who do you want to replace him? Sack Pioli when we are in UCL Quaterfinals and in a top 4 race. You’re deluded. His achieving his objectives and you just want him to get sacked in this period of time?

      1. We must replace him next season if we want to win the league again. There are some good free agents available and Milan should go for them asap if Napoli wins against us in the R8.

      2. Don’t fire him now but for next season. He just can’t figure out how to play against smaller, more defensive teams. If Napoli, Juve, Lazio maintain form into next season, and Inter get a better coach (Inzaghi is even worse than Pioli), we will struggle to finish in top 4 again. And let’s face it, the Scudetto was a miracle and in the CL we have been lucky with weak opponents.

      3. The man cannot pick a team to save his life. I think it’s pretty clear Pioli is out of his depth, the fact he didn’t treat this game like a must win is asinine. The fact Milan are one scrappy goal better than a mediocre spurs team isn’t the most convincing argument. Personally I’d like to see someone like Italiano or a wild card like Marcelo Gallardo. I haven’t thought about it too hard because only after the last few months have I been willing to admit Pioli’s not the guy.

  2. Very disappointing. Rebic is a shadow of his former self and I think it is time we offload him in the summer. For Origi I don’t even have words. He should not play in any professional team let alone in a team of Milan’s caliber.

    1. “For Origi I don’t even have words. He should not play in any professional team”

      THIS!!! It’s UNF*CKINGBELIEVABLE how bad he is!!! Does he even know he’s supposed to hit the ball and try to put it in the opponent’s goal?!!

  3. When was the last time rotation work for Milan? That should be the thing to think about seeing the line up. Rebic and Origi don’t even deserve a coop match. Rather play some primaveras with more motivation than those 2. Sandro and Isma couldn’t even beat the first ma in corner. Couldn’t remember as well when was the last time we scored in a corner. Alexis couldn’t even do simple passes.

    Florenzi and Diaz are the few ones who really seemed to make something happen. If I have to take a positive note is our defence. Malick won every aerial duel and Tomori perfomed decent too.

    1. Alexis was pretty decent in the first half. Did a good pass to Rebic but that was all from him today. If I was Pioli I will pick Florenzi over Calabria for the Napoli game.

  4. Origi and Rebic were eyesore to watch. They missed some good chances. Why did we even pick them from the start? I think pioli’s milan run is coming to an end.

  5. How the f*** is Origi a professional football player?!!! You can find far better strikers/players in the lowest divisions of any country in the world!

    Thanks Pioli for playing Origi and kissing the UCL next season goodbye.

  6. Rebic missed sitter. He didn’t even looked at the goal when shooting.

    Florenzi post… and Diaz shoot at goalkeeper…

    No clinical striker at Milan

  7. Unfair result but doesn’t change now.
    CL is in very serious risk. And that will be a colossal disaster, we return back 3 years basically.
    The way the team performs, it is unlikely to finish in top 4. Huge disaster, we cannot even realise what this will mean. Back dark ages.

  8. Napoli, with 20 points advantage, played with their best eleven…
    Each great win comes with extra arrogance for Pioli and more and more dubious decisions.

  9. Rebic and Origi are complete useless. Every time they start, it feels like Milan plays with one less man.

    And that Giroud goal shouldn’t be dissalowed. The ball touch his shoulder, not hand. But again, serie-a referee are garbage so i don’t expect anything from them.

    1. Yep. It hit the shoulder and should have counted. But when has Valeri done anything that was in favor of Milan? Oh right, never…

      1. Incorrect. It clearly hit his forearm. I’m sure Pioli was so happy when it went in, that Giroud saved his a$$ again, but he didn’t deserve to be saved

    2. Yup. The rule as I remember (but this gets changed so often) is that if it hits the (short) sleeve of the jersey it’s not a handball.

  10. And Florenzi should play more. He put in more good crosses in 15 minutes than the rest of the team this year combined. Too bad most of them were wasted because they were going towards Origi.

  11. Thats for the cringe fans who write coments like milan are back pioli is on fire after one win. grown up you idiots. pioli is transgender without balls

  12. Another masterstroke by Pioli. Changes half the winning team, expecting performances from clowns like Origi. Then waits until the 60-70th minute to send in the real players. The whole point of having the match on Friday is so that players have time to rest before the Champions League. He doesn’t realize that we can’t afford to start without our only 2-3 creative players. So sick of this mediocre coach.

  13. The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different result. This is how I can sum up Pioli starting eleven, everyone else knew we can’t score with Origi and Rebic but no Mister Pioli. Mind you Napoli start their best eleven

  14. To many changes in the team ,yes I understand changes ,but not five ,and as to Origi starting ,just can’t understand that at all ..He is not a striker ,the same could be said for Rebec..
    Pioli should have started with the same team ,that started against Napoli ..Yes make changes ,but after you are leading in the match.Giroud and rafeol leao should have started then rest them if need be at half time ,had they both started we would have won this match ..As for the team performance it was not bad and tonali man of the match ..Girouds goal should have stood it ,the ball hit his shoulder.
    I still believe strongly that we will beat Napoli ..of course starting with the same side that beat them .
    So all is not lost ..

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