AC Milan 1-3 Sassuolo: Wasteful and sloppy Rossoneri suffer damaging first home loss

By Oliver Fisher -

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.

Tags AC Milan Milan-Sassuolo

24 Comments

  1. JIMMY says:

    Someone needs to investigate this because they literally sold this game! When they played in Madrid they had betting odds like 6 and they won and today they just sold it because Sassuolo had crazy betting odds. 100 percent Zlatan is involved because he has a betting company and Gazidis&Co. Trust me on this one!

    1. micah97 says:

      Milan is just rubbish. Cannot score despite so many chances. Then the defense is so open. 7 goals given away in the last 2 matches.
      We clearly needed a RW And CAM in summer but they signed no one for those positions and now you can see the result. Forget the Scudetto, Milan are not good enough

      1. Notyourproblem says:

        Yeah indeed. Today was the worst performance of the team. I do agree that Milan needs to get two good players in those positions. I think that they should take advantage of Juventus player, Kulusevski, whom Allegri doesn’t want him in his team. Saelamakers needs competition for that position. Otherwise he would continue playing very poorly because he doesn’t have pressure. Leao needs to improve many different aspects such as knowing when to passing the ball and stopping being so selfish. Regarding a CAM, Milan hasn’t had a great talent in that position since Kaka. I don’t see this Milan beating such a strong team as Liverpool if they can’t even deal with a middle table team as Sassuolo. Indeed it looks like Inter will take the leadership at the end of the year because Napoli has their main striker injured.

  2. RocketRacoon says:

    Milan’s defense without Tomori plays like a serie B defense and not one of the good ones, and I don’t know why. Kjaer and Romagnoli super sloppy today, also I don’t know what happened to Brahim after covid but it’s like some aliens took him and replaced him with a look alike because he doesn’t even seem the same player. Awful decission making from Leao throughout the entire game, and Saelemaekers…well, I never expect anything from him and somehow he still manages to disappoint.

    1. micah97 says:

      Kjaer and Romagnoli are too slow to deal with faster strikers. the 3rd gol shows we should not renew Romagnoli. That was so sloppy.
      We have managed to choke away a 7 pt gap to Inter in 2 games.
      Milan is determined to give Inter that 2nd Star.

  3. Arber says:

    We absolutely need a real striker in january. Ibra is at least 5 times during the game offside, he’s done… Leao was not on his best, we also wasted a lot of chances. Bad luck with the first 2 goals, our mistakes.

    1. micah97 says:

      The defense is so bad. But strike is worse. So many missed chances. Clearly Management only want a top 4 finish even if Inter continue to outperform us and win more titles while we watch on like idiots

  4. micah97 says:

    This is the worst Milan game I’ve watched since the 5-0 loss to Atalanta 2 years ago. The Derby defeat in March was not this bad. At least we got outplayed there.
    We are clearly determined to give Inter ANOTHER title after Choking last year. I am so angry at this performance. Everyone was bad. We should have got Berardi in the summer since our RW is still so bad.
    We needed a striker in the Summer but got a 35 yr old Giroud that is now injured and we miss Chance after Chance.
    We have no chance of even beating Liverpool to qualify in UCL, not while playing this bad.
    This was supposed to be OUR season. Inter lost their best players and coach and are still better than us. Juve is bad. The door is open but again Milan refused to bring in a new CAM,RW and CF and we are paying the price. The defense is so bad too, as is the midfield.
    Clearly Elliot is only interested in top4. This team really needs Investment.

    1. Vrizk says:

      No the worst game in Pioli’s era is vs Spezia last year, remember Milan had 0 shot on target. In this game, Milan actually played well in the fiest 20 minute, but after that is only disaster.

  5. Giorgi Kvatchadze says:

    Nightmarish performance in every conceivable way. Defensively as well as offensively we were very sloppy today. It is super difficult to see any bright spots in today’s game. Inter are now just one point behind and Napoli have a chance to gain 3-point advantage. I hope Pioli and team work hard on their mistakes and we back to winning ways. We cannot concede 7 goals in 2 matches, against teams like Fiore and Sassuolo. So disappointing!

    1. micah97 says:

      I felt sorry for the fans that came to see the game. That was a terrible performance from EVERYBODY. Milan are clearly here to make sure Inter win another title

  6. walking says:

    I was furious when I saw Florenzi, Bakayoko, and Beneacer all starting at the same time.
    Salesmaker is such a fool, who plays like a toddler. Just a clueless and irritating player to watch.

    Who does that, why the stupid and unnecessary squad rotation? Pioli.
    This was all we needed to keep the title race margin wide but, pioli with his unreasonable decision cost us this match from the formation he chose.

    So a waste of my time

    1. micah97 says:

      Bakayoko was a terrible signing. He looks massively slow and out of shape. Bennacer was so sloppy as well. Kjaer and Romagnoli were so bad too. Everyone was bad. Messias should start ahead of Alexis.

    2. R says:

      Sorry, I disagree – squad rotation is essential at this point of the year where there are two games a week and arguably the most critical are the Champions’ League games which are midweek. I think Pioli’s playing his strongest team midweek (ie, Genoa this week and Liverpool the following week), which means some rotation is inevitable, whatever you think of the players.

      The team’s already suffering from injuries and more won’t help’ better to put out a weaker lineup for a couple of games than have more key players injured for the coming months.

      1. Walking says:

        I’m not disputing a squad rotation but, starting these shitty less than average players at the same time was my concern.

        Bakayoko is not clinical, he is not influential in matches aswell.
        Beneacer holds on to the ball too long and too much.
        Florenzi is not offensive, and his technique is just zero.
        Imagine you starting all these players at same time, with that d””ck-head Salesmaker 😡😡😡

        Again, Pioli cost us this match.

        1. Rajesh Sah says:

          Florenzi, Bakayoko and Bennacer were not linking together. This is what happens when you try to play individuals who haven’t played together before. Anyways we need to get used to this because Kessie is one of the guaranteed starters for Pioli and we know that he will be leaving us. Next season we would be playing with new pairings because Pioli hasn’t paired our regular midfielders.

  7. R says:

    This was a poor performance, and the sooner Tomori is back the better for Milan. The back four looked tired and out of sorts, with Romangnoli specifically really struggling to keep up. Not just struggling defensively, but many, many times his chipped ball to Hernandez was intercepted and gave Sassuolo possession in dangerous areas. Hernandez was also very lucky not to be sent off here.

    But after leaving it all on the pitch midweek against Atleti, I think they can be forgiven this poor performance. It shows the lack of depth that was feared and that Pioli has been working miracles to get results out of this team in the last month or two with the injuries they’ve been dealing with.

    Hopefully the full first XI (apart from Rebic and Calabria) can be on the pitch against Genoa midweek.

    1. micah97 says:

      But the squad is full. Only Rebic, Giroud and Calabria are missing.
      I think after the 1st goal, Milan switched off. Like they did in the last minutes vs Atalanta as well.
      At this rate, we will struggle to hold onto a top 4 spot

      1. Rajesh Sah says:

        You are missing Tomoro but these are mere excuses. You cannot expect your full squad to be playing throughout the season. Milan need to prepare better for these situations. If they cannot get a win, they should atleast try for a draw. That is a sign of a team aiming for Scudetto.

  8. Bo says:

    Saelemaekers needs to go…I don’t know what is the point of this guy…every time he starts it’s like we are playing with 10 men.

  9. Juro says:

    If there is anything positive that can come out of this game it would be it should show management that we need reinforcements/players in January and we cannot think we are a perfect team. RW, striker are still huge problems we haven’t solved. We cannot rely on Ibra again to play every 3 days and RW still offers us no consistency. We need more depth – starters really. Starting RW (Faivre) and a striker. Pioli has done a great job maximizing and moving players around to mask our deficiencies – but that will only last so long and we are now starting to see the cracks in our team. Inter is now only 1 point behind. We MUST buy a few players in January – Faivre for RW and Kamara for DM/CB. Vlahovic would be nice in January but summer move is more likely and we should spend the 60M it will take to get him without question. Just when I thought Romagnoli and Bakayoko are taking steps forward they took another step back. Why Pioli plays Florenzi over Kalulu I don’t understand. Florenzi is fine off the bench but not a starter at this stage in his career IMO. Pellegri offers nothing IMO. We have a chance to win the Scudetto for first time in 10 years but management must buy some players – this game just proved it

    1. JDT says:

      I get that Scudetto is important from the pride and prestige point of view – but UCL is way more important (money – and real prestige).

      Milan was always a Europe-first team. Even in the best years we did not win that many championships. I think it’s fine – Juve and Inter can keep Scudettos, it’s not that important at least until Serie A becomes strong again.

      Currently even Buli is more popular.

      We can either spend on some really good and young players – Vlaha, Sanches, maybe Alvarez if Vlaha is too much – or buy the likes of Faivre, aim for scudetto and be the 3rd team in CL groups like Atalanta.

      Club DNA is a popular phrase nowadays, I say Milan’s DNA is EUROPE.

  10. moreno says:

    Bennacer again has showed he cannot be a leader.

    Kessie had a mistake again, but it seemed he genuinely did not see the gy – ref was standing in a way.

    Either we sign up Sanches AND keep Kessie, or we can forget about challenging for anything. MF is the strongest point – but Bakayoko, Saladmaker, Rebic, even Bennacer to a point are just average players.
    Either we sign leaders for long contracts and build from there, or we should just aim to become Italian Ajax.

    PS. Re-sign Theo – and then sell his ass. Overrated player. Calabria can stay on the right and Kalulu can play on the left, at the moment ouur 3rd best player.

    Same with Leao – deeply disappointing that he seems to take in after Ronaldo. Walking back slowly after sprints, when we still have the ball and he should make himself available.

    Buuild middlefield first, add another young, good CB and then start spending big bucks on rebuilding attack. We need 2 more years.

  11. Emmanuel says:

    I’m still of the opinion that pioli needs a formation change.Not always sticking to one formation.Leo and Sale,needs to be benched.
    Can he try a 442? Or 352?
    If he must use his formation can he try Tonali as the CAM and move Diaz as the Lw.Kessie & Bennacer double pivot.
    Messais Rw.

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