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AC Milan 3-3 Frosinone: Menez penalty denies strugglers

AC Milan avoided an embarrassing home defeat and damaged Frosinone’s survival hopes in a dramatic 3-3 draw at San Siro on Sunday.

Despite his team mounting a comeback from 2-0 down, Cristian Brocchi has still tasted victory only once since taking charge of the 18-time Italian champions, who are six points outside the Europa League qualification places with only two matches of the Serie A season remaining.

The visitors scored twice in the first half, through Luca Paganini and Oliver Kragl, but also relied heavily on the excellence of goalkeeper Francesco Bardi.

He saved a Mario Balotelli penalty, and, though Carlos Bacca soon pulled a goal back early in the second half, Federico Dionisi restored the advantage.

But Luca Antonelli made a fight of it again for Milan, and Jeremy Menez prospered where Balotelli had not to equalise with a late spot-kick.

The result left Frosinone second from bottom, four points from safety, while Milan may have to beat Juventus in the final of the Coppa Italia if they are to earn a route into European competition.

The away side started in superb fashion, netting inside two minutes, as a flowing move from the left ended with Paganini’s shot flying past a helpless Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Two minutes before the break, Milan were 2-0 down to another sensational strike.

There had been little hint of a Frosinone attack, let alone a goal, but Kragl thumped a low free-kick into the net from more than 30 yards out.

The second half began at an equally frantic pace, with Bardi immediately involved again.

When Adriano Russo’s arm diverted Mattia de Sciglio’s shot, the referee had no hesitation in awarding Milan a penalty.

Balotelli, though, was brilliantly denied by the goalkeeper from 12 yards, with the rebound smuggled clear.

But Bardi then granted the hosts a route back into the game.

Keisuke Honda’s low centre squeezed between the 24-year-old and his near post, squirming free for Bacca to poke home from close range in the 50th minute.

Within four minutes, the visitors were two goals clear once again.

Alex failed in his attempts to clear the ball, instead presenting a clear chance to Dionisi, who gleefully finished beyond Donnarumma and into the corner.

After 20 minutes of toil, Antonelli came off the bench to put Milan back in the picture.

Balotelli’s delivery was nodded back into the middle by Alex, and, with his first touch, the substitute controlled on his chest to set up a glorious over-head kick.

Frosinone, having held off the onslaught for much of the second half, must have thought they were set to claim three vital points in their bid to avoid the drop.

Instead, there was a reprieve for the hosts, as another handball led to a spot-kick in the 91st minute.

This time Menez punished Vasyl Pryima’s error, Bardi unable to deny him.

And Balotelli could even haven stolen all three points, battering against the bar in the final minute of a thrilling contest.

Sun 1 May, 2016
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