Milan 1-1 Hellas Verona: Calhanoglu nets free-kick but Rossoneri drop points against 10 men

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan’s winning run in Serie A was ended at three games as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Hellas Verona at San Siro on Sunday.

Just like in the recent home win over Udinese, the Rossoneri were rocked by an early goal from the away side as Davide Faraoni gave Verona the advantage, but Hakan Calhanoglu levelled from a free-kick before the break.

Hellas hit the post twice in the second half but went down to 10 men as Sofyan Amrabat saw red, and the closest Milan came to snatching the points was Samu Castillejo’s late effort from close range which hit the post.

The result means that Milan stay 8th in the Serie A table, level on points with Parma and Cagliari above and with a superior head-to-head record.

Head coach Stefano Pioli was forced into a number of changes for the game with five players ruled out. Andrea Conti missed out through tonsillitis and was replaced by Davide Calabria, while Simon Kjaer was ruled out with flu meaning Mateo Musacchio came back in.

Ismael Bennacer’s suspension and Rade Krunic’s knock gave Hakan Calhanoglu the chance to play in central midfield alongside Franck Kessie with Giacomo Bonaventura on the left. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – also struggling with flu – was replaced by Ante Rebic.

The away side were the ones who began the game on the front foot and Verre tested Gianluigi Donnarumma with an early effort from the edge of the box, though the referee rightly blew for handball just after the save.

Pioli’s side were guilty over complicating a lot of their play in the early stages and giving the ball away as soon as they got it, but Theo Hernandez made inroads in the 11th minute with his lung-busting run, though his pull-back was well cut out.

However, it was the Gialloblu who deservedly took the lead two minutes later through Marco Davide Faraoni. He ghosted around from the far post and beat Hernandez to the low cross, finishing first time into the roof of the net past a motionless Donnarumma.

Ivan Juric’s side continued their pressure and Verre came close to doubling the advantage with a curling shot from just outside the box that bent just wide of the far left post.

Milan began to grow into the game and found themselves fashioning opportunities. First, Ante Rebic found himself with the ball in space around eight yards out but was checked back before he delivered a cross that was cut out, and then the Croatian tested Marco Silvestri with an effort from distance.

Two minutes before the half-hour mark though Milan did manage to get back on level terms. A foul from Veloso gifted Calhanoglu with a free-kick in a dangerous position, and his effort from 25 yards deflected in past a wrong-footed Silvestri in the Verona goal.

Moments later it could have been 2-1. A counter led by Leao ended with Rebic getting the ball in space on the left side of the box, but his effort was blocked and the danger eventually cleared.

From that point Milan began to grab a hold of the game until half-time. Verona had a couple of scares when Silvestri came off his line but Bonaventura nipped in and got the ball first, while Leao found space to shoot for the edge of the box twice with one going wide and one deflected for a corner.

The two sides traded efforts from distance in the early stages; the first coming from Rrhamani that was easily saved by Donnarumma, the second being Bonaventura’s effort from around 22 yards which rolled wide.

Verona were inches away from retaking the lead when a giveaway from Theo was almost punished. A teasing cross was met by a glancing header from former Milan man Matteo Pessina, but it struck the post and was eventually cleared.

A lovely lay-off from Castillejo sent Calabria away inside the box just before the hour mark, but the full-back shanked his effort over and wide.

In the 64th minute the away side were unlucky not to go 2-1 up as Zaccagni was given time to shoot inside the area after Milan failed to deal with danger; however the post once again came to the Rossoneri’s rescue.

Moments later Lucas Paqueta came off the bench in place of Giacomo Bonaventura.

With just over 20 minutes to go, Juric’s side went down to 10 men. Amrabat scythed down Castillejo on the right and after a check with VAR, referee Chiffi decided to give him a straight red card.

Calabria decided to shoot on his left foot not long after, though his effort sailed over and wide when he should have done better.

Pioli made his second change in the 77th minute as Davide Calabria made way for Alexis Saelemaekers, making his debut for the club after joining on deadline day.

With just over a minute of normal time remaining the Belgian saw the headlines as he ran 20 yards before shooting, but his effort was well over and wide.

Castillejo was inches away from scoring yet another injury time goal for Milan as a shot from Theo Hernandez was parried into his path; the Spaniard hitting the post with his close range rebound in what would be the final chance of the game.

Daniel Maldini did make his debut, coming on for the final few moments.

Tags AC Milan Milan Hellas Verona
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