AC Milan 2-2 Lecce: Calderoni screamer denies Pioli debut win

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan twice let a lead slip against Lecce at San Siro in Stefano Pioli’s first game in charge, drawing 2-2 thanks to a last minute equaliser.

In an impressive first half it was Hakan Calhanoglu who gave the home side the lead with a fierce finish from inside the area, but Khouma Babacar levelled from the spot at the second attempt after the break.

It looked as if Krzysztof Piatek had netted the decisive winner ten minutes from time, netting confidently from a Calhanoglu feed, but Marco Calderoni’s screamer two minutes into added time denied Milan the win.

The result leaves the team 12th in the table with ten points from eight games ahead of next weekend’s trip to face Roma.

The Rossoneri started the game on the front foot and a minute in Rafael Leao found himself bearing down on goal, but his effort was well saved down low and the rebound ricocheted over the bar off Lucas Paqueta.

Just 60 seconds later Leao had another great chance as Calhanoglu played him through with a great pass, however the Portugal U21 international fired into the side netting at the near post.

Calhanoglu continued to be the architect of Milan’s early dominance, and in the 12th minute he flashed a first time shot just wide of the far post from inside the box.

The Turkey international came close moments later too; fizzing a shot with his left foot which seemed destined to fly into the top right corner but missed by inches.

If anyone was to score it would be Calhanoglu, and he provided the decisive opening strike 20 minutes in. A ball over the top from Lucas Biglia was brought down well, and Hakan netted his second of the season with a fierce half-volley that rocketed past Gabriel and in at the near post.

Stefano Pioli’s side continued to press and Gabriel was forced into another save just before the half hour mark as Suso’s curling low shot was well stopped by the former Milan keeper.

The Diavolo kept pressing high and pouring forward, with Theo Hernandez running 50 yards in possession before feeding Suso whose cross was well blocked.

There was even a noticeable change straight from the second half kick-off as five players lined up on the half way line and charged into attack.

The high press continued and Milan found ways to get in behind the Lecce defence; Leao twice the beneficiary of good feeds but seeing on of his efforts blocked and the other hitting the side netting.

The second came after Mancosu went down inside the area claiming contact from Biglia as the away side served a reminder that they could be dangerous on the break.

Despite the Rossoneri’s dominance, Lecce were presented the opportunity to equalise from the spot due to a moment of recklessness of Andrea Conti. A scooped cross was missed by Babacar and landed on the full-backs arm, with the striker taking responsibility and scoring the rebound after Donnarumma had saved the initial spot kick.

The visitors gained confidence from an undeserved equaliser and could have taken the lead moments after, but Mancosu’s overhead kick from eight yards was directed just wide.

Milan should have retaken the lead at the other end as Franck Kessie burst into the area, but the Ivorian inexplicably dragged his shot wide.

Pioli made a double change immediately after as Krzysztof Piatek came on for Rafael Leao and Rade Krunic came on for Lucas Paqueta.

Calhanoglu came close to restoring the lead with yet another sweetly struck half-volley from the edge of the box, however his effort flew narrowly wide of Gabriel’s near post.

Pioli then made his final change with just over ten minutes left as Franck Kessie made way for Ante Rebic.

Milan deservedly took the lead straight from the restart as Calhanoglu – arguably the clear man of the match – pulled a ball back to the substitute Piatek who scored his first goal from open play of the season with a low angled finish inside the area.

However, it was not to be. Calderoni found space to shoot 20 yards out and beat Donnarumma with a fantastic effort to level the scores two minutes into added time, and that would be how the score remained.

Tags AC Milan Milan Lecce
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