Spezia 1-2 AC Milan: Daniel Maldini scores but late Brahim goal fires Rossoneri to win

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan secured a huge three points as they managed to get past Spezia thanks to a late Brahim Diaz goal on Saturday afternoon.

After a first half that was lacking in quality overall, a historic moment saw Daniel Maldini open the scoring with a header in his first ever Serie A start for the club, with his father Paolo watching on with pride from the stands.

The home side levelled inside the final 15 minutes though and threatened to make Milan regret their wasteful nature on the counter, but it was a case of cometh the hour cometh the man yet again.

Just as he did on Wednesday night, Brahim Diaz got the decisive goal for the Rossoneri and this time inside the final five minutes, converting from close range in front of the travelling fans to ensure Stefano Pioli’s men heap pressure on the teams around them.

Pioli made some changes to his starting line-up from the midweek win over Venezia as Fikayo Tomori and Theo Hernandez came back into the defence, Franck Kessie rejoined the midfield, while Daniel Maldini and Olivier Giroud started in the attack.

The opening stages were a cagey and physical affair with Thiago Motta’s side looking to sit deep and compact in order to thwart Milan’s build-up play and strike on the counter.

The first real chance of the game fell to the in-form midfielder Sandro Tonali, who let fly from the right edge of the box but dragged his shot wide of the far post.

The home side then managed to burst Milan’s back line thanks to a slick through ball that found the cutting run of Nzola, though his shot was straight into the grateful arms of Mike Maignan.

Gyasi was again the man to test Maignan ten minutes later when he thought he was in a good shooting position on the edge of the box, but the offside flag went up as the Frenchman parried the attempt.

Milan had a chance to open the scoring with a free kick just outside the right corner of the 18-yard box. Theo Hernandez took it with his left foot, but the ball whizzed to safety.

There was a flashpoint just after the half hour mark as Theo Hernandez went on a surging 70 yard run through the middle of the Spezia half which ended with him taking a tumble on the edge of their box, with the home side feeling he had dived and surrounding the Frenchman. In the end, a corner was given.

From the resulting corner, the ball bobbled around and was not properly cleared by the Ligurian side, yet Saelemaekers ended the attack by dragging a volley wide of the near post.

Milan had a huge chance to take the lead seven minutes before the break as a corner kick from the right flank perfectly met the head of Rebic at the far post, however the Croatian diverted it wide when there was no excuse for not hitting the target.

An interesting double change arrived at the break as both Giroud and Rebic made way for Rafael Leao and Pietro Pellegri.

There was a simply historic moment just minutes after the break as Milan took the lead through Daniel Maldini in his first ever start for the club. A ball from the right side by Kalulu perfectly met the head of the Primavera product, who headed past Zoet.

Rafael Leao was very close to doubling the advantage five minutes before the hour mark as the Portuguese winger shot with the outside of his boot from the left edge of the box but the ball cannoned off the inside of the post and span to safety.

Spezia really should have equalised a couple of minutes later when a cross was met by the head of Maggiore a matter of a few yards out, yet he somehow headed wide when it was harder to miss.

Immediately after that chance, Daniel Maldini was withdrawn in favour of Ismael Bennacer. Eighteen minutes from the end there was another positive moment for Milan as Davide Calabria made his return, coming on in place of Kalulu.

Milan’s wasteful nature continued as they continued to get the ball into dangerous areas without finding a decisive second goal. Leao tested Zoet with a shot that he spilled, but Kessie could not tuck away the resulting chance.

The Rossoneri would be made to pay for their wastefulness as the home side levelled ten minutes from time. A shot from Verde took a huge deflection to wrong foot Maignan and the ball nestled inside the near post.

A final change came not long after as Brahim Diaz was brought on from the bench in place of Kessie as Pioli looked to try and force a positive result from the game.

Leao continued to be the one to try and get an all important second goal, cutting onto his right foot from the wing and shooting into the side netting from 25 yards.

The winger wasted yet another chance two minutes later when a cross to the far post met his head, but he could not divert it between the posts despite being unopposed almost.

Four minutes from time, Milan got the winner that their overall pressure deserved. Some endeavouring work from Saelemaekers down the left flank saw the ball cut back to the Spaniard, who nutmegged Zoet to make it 2-1 right in front of the travelling support.

In the end that would be the last real action of the game as Milan held on for a huge win,

Tags AC Milan Spezia Milan

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