AC Milan 0-0 Sassuolo: Pegolo brilliance denies the Rossoneri a birthday present

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan would not get the present they wanted on the celebration of their 120th birthday as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Sassuolo.

The game was far from eventless despite the lack of goals as 38-year-old goalkeeper Gianluca Pegolo produced a number of impressive stops to thwart the Rossoneri.

Milan also had a goal controversially disallowed after Franck Kessie was adjudged to have handled the ball before Theo Hernandez’s effort was deflected in.

The result means Milan are stuck in 10th place in the table ahead of a tricky trip to Atalanta before the Christmas break.

Although Milan started on the front foot it was Sassuolo who had the first major chance as Caputo fired over from close range after a feed in behind inside the area.

The Rossoneri answered back with a chance of their own in the 14th minute as Suso squared a ball to Giacomo Bonaventura on the edge of the area, with the Italian seeing his effort parried to Franck Kessie whose rebound was also saved, though he was offside.

Moments later Jeremie Boga went on a solo run and almost broke the deadlock; the winger beating three players and surging into the area but seeing his effort saved.

Stefano Pioli’s side had another chance to score the opening goal as a squared pass from Theo Hernandez found Hakan Calhanoglu inside the area, but the Turkey international hit his effort wide at the first attempt.

Milan thought they had taken the lead in the 33rd minute when Hernandez saw an effort deflected in past Pegolo, however VAR ruled the goal out due to a handball by Kessie in the build up.

After the disallowed goal Sassuolo grew in confidence, and Mateo Musacchio went into the book after scything down Boga just outside the area, however the free-kick was blocked.

Up the other end Ismael Bennacer won the ball back and was through on goal, taking the ball around Pigolo who came rushing off his line, but Berardi produced a goal-saving block.

More controversy followed from the resulting corner as Magnanelli clearly handled the ball inside the area, but the referee adjudged that there had been a foul and the ball came into the area and Kessie was booked for his protests.

Sassuolo had the first real chance of the second half on the counter-attack. A poor pass from Bennacer was cut out and Boga was eventually found on the left, though he curled his effort wide of the far post.

Giorgos Kyriakopoulos then tested Donnarumma with an effort from outside the area which was put behind for a corner as Milan continued their sloppy start to the half.

The Rossoneri then had a golden chance to take the lead in the 52nd minute as Bonaventura found space to run into down the wing, but Malen did well to block as Krzysztof Piatek was stood in front of an empty net.

From the resulting corner Piatek drew a save from Pegolo; a well directed header which didn’t quite have the power.

Calhanoglu drew yet another save from Pegolo not long after, a curling effort from 25 yards that was destined to nestle into the far right corner.

Lucas Paqueta came on for Kessie 10 minutes into the second half and almost scored with his second touch; another great save from Pegolo at the near post after a driving run from the Brazilian.

Calhanoglu had yet another chance to make it 1-0 two minutes later but he dragged his effort wide of the near post after a good feed from Theo.

Milan continued to knock on the door and had another chance on the hour mark when Giacomo Bonaventura’s shot was almost met by the advancing Piatek inside the area, though in the end he was a yard behind.

Another opportunity was wasted when a loose ball fell to Paqueta inside the area in the 69th minute but he failed to keep his effort down and fired over the bar.

Pegolo was once again the hero for the visitors twice in quick succession: the first to deny a strike from Calhanoglu with he parried towards Bonaventura before saving his rebound.

As Milan saw yet another effort deflected behind for a corner, Rafael Leao came on in place of Piatek, and moments later Romagnoli headed wide from a corner when he should have done better.

Leao was inches away from giving the home side a deserved lead seven minutes from time as his right-footed effort hit the crossbar and bounced down but away to safety.

The Portuguese was again just inches away from the game’s first goal as he hit the post with an effort from an area similar to the first.

A late scramble inside the area saw Paqueta have a shot blocked, but ultimately the Neroverdi hung on to steal a point from Milan.

Tags AC Milan Milan-Sassuolo