AC Milan suffered their first home league defeat of the season as they were beaten 3-1 by Sassuolo at San Siro on Sunday afternoon.
It was a game that certainly started the right way for Milan as Alessio Romagnoli gave the hosts the lead with a header from a corner, but what seemed to rock the Rossoneri was how quick the visitors hit back through Gianluca Scamacca.
Sassuolo turned parity into a lead nine minutes later as a Scamacca shot was saved by Mike Maignan but hit Simon Kjaer and went in for an own-goal, while Domenico Berardi’s second half goal essentially killed the game.
Things went from bad to worse when Romagnoli saw red for a last-man challenge in the closing stages, putting a final sour note on what was a performance that certainly suggests a hangover from the Champions League win over Atletico Madrid.
Head coach Stefano Pioli made six changes to the starting line-up that beat Atletico Madrid as Mike Maignan came in for Ciprian Tatarusanu, Alessandro Florenzi started at right-back over Pierre Kalulu, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Ismael Bennacer came in for the Tonali-Kessie double pivot, while Rafael Leao and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were reinstated into the attack in place of Rade Krunic and Olivier Giroud.
There was some early danger for Sassuolo to deal with as a switch of play over to the left flank saw Theo Hernandez volley a ball across the six-yard box from an advanced position and it was turned wide with Ibrahimovic lurking, though the offside flag went up anyway.
Milan’s bright start continued and Bakayoko was very close to scoring his first goal since returning for a second spell as he let fly from about 20 yards out but his effort didn’t quite bend inside the far post.
The offside flag really saved Ibrahimovic’s blushes in the seventh minute as he went through on goal after a ball around the back from Brahim Diaz that he could not slot past Consigli, and the replay showed he had indeed strayed by a couple of yards.
Milan again wasted a huge opportunity to take the lead early on by drawing an offside flag. Bakayoko won the ball back and sprung a counter with Brahim Diaz feeding Leao who sent Theo Hernandez in behind, though his cut-back was intercepted and the flag went up.
The early theme of wastefulness continued as Ibrahimovic found space in behind and this time was onside, yet his cut-back was a bit too heavy and behind Brahim Diaz, who would have had a big chance to open the scoring on the counter.
In the 21st minute, it was Milan who did take the lead that their early pressure was threatening. It came from a corner kick that was whipped in at the near post and met by the head of Romagnoli who beat Consigli who only managed to parry the ball into the inside netting.
However, the lead would last for less than three minutes as a mistake from Bakayoko was punished. Scamacca picked the ball up some distance from goal and let fly with a speculative curling effort that went in off the woodwork with Maignan rooted to his spot.
Milan seemed to be rocked by the equaliser when the away side took the lead nine minutes after they levelled the scoring. A corner was glanced on at the near post and cleared off the line but only to Scamacca whose shot was saved by Maignan onto Kjaer and in for an own-goal.
Raspadori wasn’t far off making it 3-1 to the Neroverdi with a slow but precise low shot from the left edge of the box that Maignan needed to be at full stretch to palm away.
The final two chances of the first half saw Scamacca head wide at the near post after he beat Kjaer to a low cross, while at the other end Ibrahimovic whiffed at a shot following a cut-back from Brahim Diaz on the byline.
The worrying end to the first 45 minutes saw Pioli make a double change at the break, with Franck Kessie and Junior Messias coming on in place of Bakayoko and Brahim Diaz respectively.
Leao had the first opportunity of the second half as he led a counter-attack down the left wing, taking the ball inside the box and trying to shape a shot inside the far post but misjudging it and sending it wide.
Another change came on the hour mark as Sandro Tonali came on for Bennacer, with the Algerian having struggled to get to grips with the game. The Milan No.8 had a chance to fire on goal after less than 60 seconds after Ibrahimovic’s knockdown but fired over.
Milan began to turn the screw a bit and in the 63rd minute Ibrahimovic will have felt he should have hit the target with a shot from around 20 yards out that he placed wide of Consigli’s post.
However, it would be Sassuolo who got the all-important next goal to make it 3-1, and it came from a familiar enemy in Berardi. Kessie was sloppy in giving possession away in a dangerous area but in truth Romagnoli should have done a lot better to prevent a shot from his compatriot who finished from a tight angle.
It should have been a one-goal game again almost immediately after as a Messias cross was met by the head of Kjaer who somehow missed the target, and after that chance Pietro Pellegri came on for Florenzi.
Inside the final 20 minutes Messias drew a good low save from Consigli after Ibrahimovic’s flick had found him in some space. Things went from bad to worse for the Rossoneri when Defrel found himself in isolation against Romagnoli and was rugby tackled by the captain, which drew a straight red card.
Although there was a lot of late pressure, it was not to be Milan’s day as they lost for the first time at home in the league.