AC Milan left it late to snatch a draw against Sampdoria on Saturday lunchtime as their San Siro struggles continued.
The Rossoneri came into the game confident having beaten Fiorentina 3-2 in the game before the international break and with some key players back, it seemed the perfect game to send a message to the rest of the teams in the top six.
However, it wasn’t to be as Milan were way off the pace once again, regularly misplacing passes and general being wasteful. A mistake at the back allowed Fabio Quagliarella to give the away side a second half lead with a lob over Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Adrien Silva saw red for Samp due to a second yellow card not long after, and substitute Jens Petter Hauge popped up to snatch a late draw for Milan, though Franck Kessie did hit the woodwork late on.
The result means that Milan failed to close the gap on Inter to three points as they would have hoped, and opens to door slightly for the teams below them in the top four race.
There were some changes to the starting XI from the game before the international break against Fiorentina as Alexis Saelemaekers started at right-back, Rade Krunic got the nod on the left wing and Ismael Bennacer slotted back into the midfield.
Sampdoria had the better of the early exchanges as they found space to operate down the sides of the box, and had a number of dangerous opportunities including Bereszynski failing to find anyone with a cut-back and Donnarumma palming a curling effort from Gabbiadini over the bar.
Milan threatened for the first time in the ninth minute as we saw a glimpse of the fast and intricate attacking play. Ibrahimovic fed the ball to Theo Hernandez down the left after holding it up well and the Frenchman had time to cross, but Tonelli slid in to block what would have been an easy chance, diverting the ball into Audero’s hands.
The them of the game then became repeated offsides from Milan and squandered counter-attacking opportunities for Sampdoria, though Augello did test Donnarumma with an effort from inside the box, though he was crowded which made his shot weak and the Italy international gathered comfortably.
Theo Hernandez then made an excellent recovery challenge to deny Damsgaard who seemed to have been put through on goal by Gabbiadini’s excellent flick in behind, though the Frenchman did very well to intervene and knee the ball back to Donnarumma.
The pressure from the away side continued and in the 24th minute Gigio was forced into another sensational save, denying a powerful header from Thorsby that was destined to sneak in at the near post after a free-kick from Candreva on Samp’s right.
The Rossoneri had two free-kicks in a very similar position centrally around 25 yards out, but Ibrahimovic and Calhanoglu took it in turns to step up and thump their effort into the wall in what was reflective of the rusty nature of Milan’s first half performance.
There was an interesting change made at the break as Saelemaekers made way for Pierre Kalulu in a change at the right-back spot, although the Belgian had hardly been struggling too much.
The early few minutes in the second half was generally Milan playing neat passing triangles on the left flank but the move falling apart when the ball reached Ibrahimovic, as he looked rusty and sluggish.
Just before the hour mark, Sampdoria took the lead with a bizarre goal. As Milan tried to play out from the back, the ball was given away to Quagliarella by Theo, who simply lobbed the ball over Donnarumma and into an empty net with the goalkeeper stranded well off his line.
However, Samp would go down to 10 men just after the goal as Adrien Silva picked up his second yellow card for a nasty foul on Castillejo. This would be followed by a double change as Ante Rebic and Sandro Tonali came on for Krunic and Bennacer.
The frustration continued for Milan as the substitute Rebic managed to turn into some space with 24 minutes left on the clock but chipped his effort well over the bar.
Another roll of the dice came with 17 minutes left as Jens Petter Hauge came on for Castillejo, who toiled away without affecting the play all that much. Moments later, Calhanoglu saw an attempt from the edge of the box deflected wide with the keeper stranded.
Milan came very close to getting themselves level inside the final 10 minutes as an excellent through ball from Hauge found Rebic in behind and he poked the ball beyond the onrushing Audero, but Colley was on hand to recover and clear a couple of yards off the line.
However, the home side would draw level with a few minutes remaining and it was the substitute Hauge who got the goal. Kessie fed the ball through to the Norwegian on the left side of the box, and he paused for a moment before setting himself and curling the ball inside the far corner.
Milan came within inches of stealing all three points with the last effort of the game as Ibrahimovic found Kessie inside the box and he lifted his shot onto the crossbar, with Audero rooted to the spot.