Lazio 0-1 AC Milan: Okafor nets late winner as home side get three red cards

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan left it late against eight-man Lazio, but they found a way in the closing minutes to secure a 1-0 win at the Stadio Olimpico on Friday night.

The first half did not quite provide a match between intensity and quality, but the game exploded into life not long into the second half when Luca Pellegrini was given his marching orders after receiving a second yellow card.

Rafael Leao had a goal chalked off for an incredibly tight offside call and when it looked as though the game was out of reach, Noah Okafor struck off the bench to finally break the resolve of the home side.

Drama followed in the closing stages as Lazio were given two more red cards. The first was for Marusic after something he said to the referee, and then Guendouzi got a second yellow for reacting to a foul from Pulisic.

The result means that Milan move 16 points clear of Lazio, while they are 10 clear of Atalanta in fifth who play fourth-placed Bologna this weekend.

After lots of deliberation about what the line-up would be, Stefano Pioli made just one change to the team from the draw against Atalanta on Sunday, with Simon Kjaer coming back into the centre of defence partnering Matteo Gabbia.

Milan’s opening to the game was perhaps best symbolised in the opening five minutes when the team worked a nice move down the left side with Rafael Leao and Theo Hernandez, but Yacine Adli miscontrolled a pass and then wiped out his man.

The Rossoneri looked shaky at the other end meanwhile, with Kjaer giving away a corner kick while not under much pressure and it was from that set pieces that Vecino got a free attempt at the near post from six yards out but it went inches wide off his knee.

There was a moment of controversy a few minutes later when Alessandro Florenzi and Mike Maignan got mixed up. The full-back knocked a backpass towards the goalkeeper who slid into the ball and with his follow through took out Castellanos. It wasn’t a spot kick, but Sarri and the Lazio players were apoplectic.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek was brought down by Vecino just a few yards outside the edge of the box with a challenge that went through the back of him, yet Florenzi could not take advantage of what was a very threatening free-kick chance as he hit the ‘draught excluder’ behind the wall.

It continued to be a game of half-chances, and 10 minutes before the break a corner wasn’t quite cleared allowing Christian Pulisic to take on a volley from the edge of the box which he got completely wrong.

The final two attempts of the first half might just have been Milan’s best, as a counter-attack led by Theo Hernandez saw Christian Pulisic cut inside from the right corner of the box and force Provedel to palm his shot over, then from the resulting corner Giroud headed over at the far stick despite being completely unmarked.

Milan started the second half on the front foot as Leao got the ball in a couple of dangerous areas. The first was a teasing cross to the near post that Gila’s lucky touch into Provedel’s arms cut out, then he laced a shot over from 25 yards after creating space.

There was a huge flashpoint in the 57th minute when Lazio were reduced to 10 men. Castellanos went down after losing out in a challenge with Bennacer and Pellegrini attempted to let the ball roll out for a throw-in, but Pulisic stole the ball and he was ragged down as he threatened to run away.

Pellegrini got a second yellow for the obvious foul, but both sets of players came together in a very hostile manner as Lazio thought the ball should have gone out, yet the left-back never took the chance to put it out and was punished.

Five minutes later, Pioli made a couple of changes as Davide Calabria and Tijjani Reijnders came on for Florenzi and Bennacer in an attempt to take the game to the hosts.

Giroud missed a big opportunity to give Milan the lead after a brilliant one-touch passing move down the middle of the field involving Adli and Loftus-Cheek, with the latter setting up the French striker whose effort from around the penalty spot was weak and straight at Provedel.

Shortly after being booked for fouling his man on the break, Pioli brought Adli off and replaced him with Noah Okafor. The Swiss forward was very close to scoring with his first touch when Reijnders teased a lovely ball across the six-yard box yet it just evaded him at the far post.

The game began to stretch and the chances followed. At one end a cross from Pulisic was hit hard first time on the volley by Loftus-Cheek and Provedel saved well, then on the counter Isaksen squared for Immobile who somehow poked wide at the near post.

It looked as though Leao had given Milan the lead with 15 minutes left on the clock when he was slipped in behind by a lovely through ball and his low cross/shot deflected in off Provedel. However, VAR intervened to rule it offside.

With 10 minutes to go Pioli decided to make two changes at centre-back, with Fikayo Tomori and Malick Thiaw coming on for Kjaer and Gabbia.

Just as it looked like the game was drifting away from Milan, they found a way to get themselves in front with two minutes left on the clock. Theo sent Leao away down the left side and his cut-back was thumped on goal by Okafor, with the rebound blocked back into the path of the former Salzburg man, who this time squeezed it by Provedel with the follow-up.

As if one red card wasn’t enough, two more followed in the dying minutes of the game. Di Bello gave Marusic a straight red clearly after having said something to the referee, and then Guendouzi lashed out at Pulisic after a foul to earn his second yellow.


Tags AC Milan Lazio Milan


  1. I love Adli and Kjaer.
    They were fighting to defend Pulisic at the end after full time whistle.

    That offside call from VAR should be investigated.

    It clearly showed Leao was onside and yet they called offside?

    Is it some sort of open corruption?

    Clown Hysaj kick to the back of Giroud’s head.
    Why VAR didn’t check that?

    It was direct red card.

    Hard fought win by the way

  2. We were lucky to win there, not threatening Lazio till they got a red card. Thankfully the referee decision were in our favor and we were able to win even if it’s a bit ugly. Thanks for the win

    1. I don’t think we threatened them much even after they got the red card. It’s almost like we didn’t have a plan. We would either try to hurry a play and lose the ball, or try to pressure to get the ball and make a foul when a Lazio player would shield the ball with their body. It felt at times that Lazio was playing better after they were left with 10 players, no pressure on them to make a play other than keeping the ball.

      It’s telling that we were able to score from a counter-attack on a team with 10 players. We need either better coordination to make 1-2 passes, players that can dribble in tight spaces or someone up front that can be physically imposing, hold the ball and make space …

      Test of Lazio and Atalanta barely passed, Pioli should be careful not to drop points against smaller teams.

    1. At least somebody had a high score!

      I guess he was as bored as the rest of us watching that sh1t, he decided to spice things up!

    1. “The referee obviously lost control over the match.”

      Lost control? Quite the opposite actually. He had the balls to make the right calls even in the dying minutes. Kudos to him.

  3. Hard hard fought win. Lazio and Pioli tried everything to tie this game. Respect to the referee and Okafor for not giving up on Milan. Forza Milan

  4. Another instance where even with a man extra we find it very hard to ask the right questions on the pitch and have little to no penetration.

    People come here and post saying that ‘we dominated’ or ‘we were unlucky’ but there’s a massive elephant in the room of how we simply cannot break teams down.

    In terms of the game, was it Immobile refereeing it? The Leao/own goal wasn’t offside, a other case where VAR is found wanting. I don’t mind winning ugly occasionally but we need to learn to break teams down who we are dominating possession-wise and kill games off.

    Okafor is a striker! His penalty box awareness is excellent. Even with his first contribution where he stretched for the ball he showed he has greet penalty box awareness. Decent finish by him too for the goal, he was quicker that those around him.

    A win is a win but the questions remain

    1. Not threatening Lazio till they got a red card, infact they threatened milan, drawing 4 yellow cards while playing with a man sent off.
      Reijnders and musah alongside Adli in a 3 man midfield would have made Lazio sweat.

      Bennacer is a thousand miles away from his old form and that ghost midfielder Ghostus cheek doesn’t create chances with the ball, just walks around hoping to score.
      Reijnders-Adli-Musah midfield trident can pass, hold the ball and create chances with good movement, not a central attacking midfielder ghosting around while hoping to score.
      Lack the of creativity from the unbalanced midfield affects the performance of Leao & Pulisic, likewise inability to retain possession break play exposes the defence.
      I would like to see Reijnders-Adli-Musah

  5. Giroud is one of the problem, negative outcome. Theo and adli were good but many errors.
    Well done Leo, gabbia, kjer, Rlc, bennacer, pulisic and the scorer .

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