AC Milan 1-2 Atalanta: Coppa Italia curse continues as Rossoneri squander lead

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan crashed out of the Coppa Italia at the quarter-final stage as they lost 2-1 to Atalanta at San Siro on Wednesday night.

Things seemed to be going in the right direction for Milan when Rafael Leao’s fantastic finish in the closing stages of the first half made it 1-0, but Teun Koopmeiners equalised within 90 seconds.

Koopmeiners would sting the Rossoneri again in the second half and this time from the penalty spot after Alex Jimenez was controversially penalised for a foul on Miranchuk. The Dutchman converted from 12 yards, and it would prove to be the winner.

Milan’s Coppa Italia drought will therefore continue, and it is a bitter blow given that many saw the competition as a legitimate trophy target given the teams eliminated already.

Stefano Pioli made four changes from the team that beat Empoli 3-0 at the weekend with Matteo Gabbia and Alex Jimenez coming into the back four, Yunus Musah getting a start in midfield and Luka Jovic leading the line.

The opening exchanges were perhaps befitting of two local rivals looking to seal the third spot in the semis of the competition. The only briefly threatening moment in the opening 10 minutes was a cross from the left that Musah looked to get onto but it was well cleared.

It was a battle between two teams who are certainly no stranger to the high press and a midfield stalemate seemed to break out with both sides struggling to hang onto the ball.

The first real moment of danger came in the 18th minute when Ruben Loftus-Cheek won back possession inside Milan’s half and Christian Pulisic led a break which ended with Musah seeing a shot parried over after Rafael Leao’s cut-back.

De Ketelaere had been tracked and contained by Gabbia inside the opening half hour, but he could have had an assist with a lovely floated cross from the left side that was volleyed well over from an unmarked position.

Atalanta had a huge opportunity to take the lead a few minutes later and again De Ketelaere was involved. A deep cross to the far post was nodded by across goal by the Belgian towards De Roon, who bashed into Gabbia with his run and the ball drifted just wide.

The fall-out from the incident was not done there though as Gasperini was sent off for his protests at the lack of a penalty, while Gabbia had to go off with a bloody nose and was replaced by Simon Kjaer.

With seconds left of the first 45 minutes, Milan took the lead. Maignan claimed a corner and Tijjani Reijnders fed Leao on the break down the left, who fed Theo Hernandez and received a return ball before slamming a finish first time inside the far corner.

However, the lead wouldn’t even last until half time as Atalanta got themselves level pretty much straight from the restart. La Dea built down the right with Miranchuk and De Ketelaere, finding Holm who pulled the ball back to Koopmeiners who fired past Maignan with a low angled shot.

The away side could have even been leading going into the interval but Calabria made a very impressive block to deny the ex-Milan loanee Pasalic who seemed certain to score from around the penalty spot.

La Dea had the first chance of the second half too, with Koopmeiners letting fly from around 25 yards and drawing a good save from Maignan. A counter ensued from the resulting corner but Leao’s through ball couldn’t quite find Calabria’s run in behind.

Koopmeiners continued to be the main threat for Atalanta as we suggested he might be in a pre-match article, and he dragged a shot wide from the edge of the box on 55 minutes.

Minutes later, Atalanta got themselves in front and it came from the penalty spot. Miranchuk took on Jimenez with a dart to the byline and went down despite the fact the Spaniard got a touch on the ball, and Koopmeiners sent Maignan the wrong way from 12 yards.

On the hour mark Pioli made a couple of changes, with Filippo Terracciano coming on for his debut alongside Jan-Carlo Simic, with Jimenez and Calabria being withdrawn.

The Bergamo side were the team who responded better to the goal, with De Ketelaere seeing an effort from close range squirm into Maignan’s hands before the Frenchman gratefully caught a shot from 20 yards not long after.

Musah hadn’t had the best of games in truth, though he did well to block a shot from Ederson that looked to be heading into the bottom corner. At the other end, Pulisic forced a great save from Carnesecchi.

On 72 minutes Pioli made a couple more changes with Loftus-Cheek and Reijnders coming off for Yacine Adli and Olivier Giroud in what was a clear switch to a two-striker system.

Inside the closing stages Leao tried to return the favour to Theo after his previous assist with a cut-back inside the box that the defender charged onto but laced into the crowd.

Milan tried to force an equaliser in the closing stages but they never moved the ball quick enough nor produced quality deliveries, and the result was another early cup exit.


Tags AC Milan Milan Atalanta


      1. The changes weren’t bad; it was too late.
        Look at the urgency in build up towards the end; incisive passes from adli (He brought what milan needed – ‘pinpoint splitting passes’
        Musah is a waste of money, can’t bet on him to score or utilize half chances ; RLC also wasted 2/3 half chances. This team is NGMI with pioli.
        In the end, theo should have started at LB with kjaer & gabbia or simic at cb

  1. Wow, Jovic sure proved today that he is way better than Giroud.

    PS : this is not against Jovic, but against bandwagoning people who only look back short-term rather than long-term.

    1. Thou I quite like how the team played in the first half with the extreme high press, not much was created for Jovic if any. Giroud wouldnt do any better and compared to their recent performances it’s understandable for people to to ask Jovic. Pioli will probably start Giroud in the next 7 matches justifying it with Jovic not scoring tonight!

    1. At 10 January 2024 14:19 Pato Williams said:

      “Change coach just like Napoli,new coach with new idea at the middle of the season, that will take time for players to adapt but if they don’t adapt soon, they start to break down mentally and then we find ourselves in 7 or 8 place at the end of the season. Why can’t some of u people see that pioli is trying with limited budget and allot of injury”.

      What I hate the most is that we are beaten by teams with way less budget and semi professional players each time. I would like him/her to answer to this.

  2. We played great with 4231 last match but hey, let’s change the formation for the umpteenth time. There goes the only thing we can possibly win this season.

  3. When i say Pioli gotta go it’s because of this.. for future reference.

    Enderson seems like the new Kessie. Definitely gotta get Carnesecchi if/when mike leaves

  4. This musah is a waste of money bcos i cnt see wht he was playing..our midfield was totally lost cnt even play key passes lik other teams

  5. There you have it, pioli looked clueless
    Ideally, he shouldn’t (not losing to altalanta a second time- this time at home) .
    Coppa Italia is a low hanging fruit.
    Pioli doesn’t stand a chance in the league or europa with his rubbish tactics (Theo, Leao Giroud & Inshallah).

  6. Beating small fryes (Sassuolo, Cagliari, Empoli) doesn’t mean you’ll be able to replicate the same copy against a half-decent team.
    You can beat tomato cans with brute force and individual qualities alone, but against live opposition, you actually need to have a plan.
    The fact that Atalanta has a stacked midfield, is good on the counter and has actually BEATEN us before should have been taken into consideration by our coach, who yet again, insists on maintaining the same strategies again and again despite the lack of success and then blame the losses on lack of efficiency in front of the goal, and pulls the “we were dominating, we played better” out of his hat yet again.
    I don’t want to be too harsh on the kid Jimenez (although I don’t want to see him play too often), but there is a difference between being a good leftback against cannon fodders and being such against Atalanta. If only we had an experienced leftback… oh wait we do have one but our coach decided that he should yet again be a centerback. If trusting primavera players is the new trend, why not use Simic, a natural centerback who had already played in serie A prior to today? The common wisdom says to make use of a player in his natural position, in this case, Theo as a leftback and Simic as a centerback. Half baked solutions will only get you so far.
    Our midfield was perfect. And by perfect, I mean perfectly bad. Our trio neither was creative, nor managed to stop Atalanta’s threats. All of them, RLC, Reijnders and Musah gave a very bad copy today.
    I don’t want to be too harsh on our forwards, but they were bad. The attack is only good if the delivery is good as well but they were still bad. Jovic was absent, Pulisic kind of tried but it amounted to nothing and Leao can claim that he at least scored a goal, but not much more.
    Let’s address the fighting spirit, the team mentally collapsed in the second half, especially after the second goal. This coach and these players seem to completely froze when things are not going their way or when the opposition fights back, they become nervous and frustrated. The subbed players brought some life, but again, they were brought in too late.
    In the end, we’re out of the Coppa, we’re out of the Scudetto race, Europa League is simply out of reach and even a fourth place might be a tall task. And the question remains, for how long do we have to stick with pioli and his staff ?

    1. Yes jovic was bad ,,but delivery to him was poor ..
      Giroud is a much better bet ,,but he needs decent service.
      As a said ,,,it was correct to leave jovic on when Olivier came on ,,but the substitution was to late ..
      I don’t really understand the late substitutions …Jimenez should not have played in a match of this importance ..
      As I said previously Rafeol leao was our biggest danger .
      Loftus cheek superb last game ,,but couldn’t create anything this game …Yes we deserved to lose ..
      Next game for me it’s definitely Olivier Giroud to start .
      No doubt we will win that game .
      I have told you in advance ..

      1. Loftus Check was the same last game as well. He just got one lucky penalty and one tap in. He was invisible in the rest of that game, same as today.

  7. How do you have 63 percent of possession in the first half and only manage 3 shots. Pioli is ruining the team. Reijners and LC should switch positions. Reijners can better serve the attack. Kudos to Atalanta’s defense they kept Leao quiet most of the game. Musah needs to learn how to play one touch and read the game more. Feel sorry for Jimenez as that was never a penalty. I have to say something about Calabria. He’s a good player. But maybe if you have to sub him every game then maybe he’s not captain material? He would be a good sub max. But I still blame Pioli for the second half performance. Awful substitutions.

  8. Just listen you fans that keep criticising Olivier Giroud.
    The man is class and should have been brought on for the second half ..Yes it was the correct decision to leave jovic on and put crosses into the box ,,and had the substitution been made earlier ,,then we might have got something out of the game ..Giroud is a better player than jovic and he must start our next game …Rafeo leao was our best player who always looked as if he could create something,,indeed he did with a stunning goal ..Atalanta deserved to win this game ..We need Olivier Giroud,,,he is not finished.

  9. It’s crazy.
    Leao is a sometimes player. UNTRUSTABLE
    Musah is not as skilful as he thinks he is. He is a gladiator, not a technique master. Stick to YOUR STRENGTHS.
    Pioli: What exactly have you been preparing the team for???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Just to the wings and cross and hope for the best? There are NO SYSTEMS, THE ATTACK IS NOT RELIABLE!!!!!!!!! SO MUCH POSSESSION, NO SHOTS. THIS IS NOT SUNDAY FOOTBALL MISTER PIOLI.

  10. Pioli’d. Now can we get rid of him?

    It’s not about the loss, it’s about how they played. Discombobulated. Unorganized. No team, just 11 individuals. No creative ideas from coach or players. That was hard to watch.

    This is going to keep happening until we sack him. Better to just do it soon rather than bleed out all season.

    Pioli himself (after Maldini was booted) agreed to ALL these transfers with Moncada this season. Let’s take a look:

    – Chukwueze? Poor. Hope he can turn it around next year because he’s going to be a worse financial loss than CDK at this point. A lot worse.

    – Musah? Just not Milan level yet. Sell him, get Ricci from Torino in the summer.

    – Reijnders? Mediocre pass merchant and nothing more. Good on ball but never does anything with it. Is invisible and can’t play defense worth a lick. Maybe with better players he’d click more, but given his on ball and passing stats – I doubt it.

    – Romero? – Not playing. Not at Milan’s level.

    – Pulisic? – Only one playing good. Contributing. Took over Milan’s RW with Chukwueze and Romero turning in poor performances.

    Without Bennacer (or Tonali), this team will suffer. They have no uber talented midfielders who can boss and drive the midfield. 11 players, no team.

    Oh, btw, how many moneyball failures is this?

  11. Referee was an absolute joke today. Jimenez is touching the ball first, so how can he even consider to give a penalty. Also no corner at the end of the game (penalty is maybe a little harsh, it wasn’t a clear handball). A lot of fouls denied in a lot of cases for Milan but at the same time ref was easy on the yellows, but only for Milan players. Once again poor performance and low creativity, with some exceptions of course. Another year, another disqualification in San Siro, what’s wrong with us and Copa Italia. Now the only cup we can hope for is Europa League, not a competition for Milan but what can we do. We are looking forward and hope for some improvement in a lot of things, inside and outside of the team. Forza Milan⚫️🔴

  12. Oh, and don’t forget! We can look forward to moneyball next year too!

    We’re most likely signing Zirkzee next year. World class all star right here. With Jovic and Zirkzee, Man City, watch out!

    I’m calling it now, Zirkzee with 30+ goals.


  13. The changes weren’t bad; it was too late.
    Look at the urgency in build up towards the end; incisive passes from adli (He brought what milan needed – ‘pinpoint splitting passes’
    Musah is a waste of money, can’t bet on him to score or utilize half chances ; RLC also wasted 2/3 half chances. This team is NGMI with pioli.
    In the end, theo should have started at LB with kjaer & gabbia or simic at cb

  14. can’t wait to see the faces of,
    the owner of a mega rich investment fund redbird with his courtesans:

    furlanshit, the financial experts of sports in the whole world, space, and galaxy.

    moncad-ass, the great talent spotter in the real, virtual, and supernatural worlds.

    the master motivator who can part the sea that has just join aboard.

    and finally, let’s not forget the club president trombolloni, whose diplomacy can unite klingons, vulcans, jedi and sith

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