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AC Milan go top after Christian Pulisic nets winner amid late drama in Genoa

SoccerNews in Serie A 7 Oct 2023

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AC Milan moved to the top of Serie A with a 1-0 win at Genoa that saw Christian Pulisic score late on before both sides had their goalkeepers sent off in stoppage time.

After substitute Pulisic broke the deadlock by firing home in the 87th minute, the Rossoneri were then reduced to 10 men in the eighth minute of time added on when Mike Maignan was dismissed.

Pulisic’s fellow substitute Olivier Giroud took over from Maignan in goal, and saw the Milan bar rattled moments later – before the drama continued with Genoa keeper Josep Martinez being shown a second yellow card.

With Giroud then making a save in the final few moments, Milan saw out the victory as they managed to take maximum advantage of Inter Milan being held 2-2 at home by Bologna earlier in the day.

Securing a fourth successive league victory and eighth in nine Serie A games, Stefano Pioli’s went two points clear as they replaced Inter at the summit.

Pioli made five changes to his starting line-up from the 0-0 Champions League draw at Borussia Dortmund, including replacing the front three of Giroud, Pulisic and Rafael Leao with Luka Jovic, Samuel Chukwueze and Noah Okafor.

Two of that trio brought in almost combined for an early goal, with Chukwueze lofting the ball forward and Okafor just unable to finish as Martinez grabbed it.

The hosts then appealed for a penalty when Johan Vasquez went down in a tangle with Alessandro Florenzi but nothing was given.

A spell of Milan pressure around the quarter-hour mark saw Martinez deal with a shot from Florenzi and then block Tijjani Reijnders’ strike.

Florenzi subsequently got himself in the way of a Vasquez shot, before Theo Fernandez and Florenzi hit drives off-target.

After Pioli opted to bring on Pulisic and Leao for Chukwueze and Okafor at the interval, Milan continued to be frustrated in their search for a breakthrough early in the second half, struggling to fashion much in attack.

Leao then saw Martinez make a fine save to tip his bouncing header over the bar in the 65th minute, shortly before Giroud was introduced to the fray.

Genoa then threatened to grab the lead as Radu Dragusin’s shot deflected off Reijnders, with Maignan doing well to turn it around the post, and substitute Caleb Ekuban headed over.

It looked as if Milan would miss their opportunity to replace Inter at the top, but Pulisic then controlled a Yunus Musah delivery, turned and fired in, the effort standing after a VAR check for handball.

That proved only the start of a dramatic finale as stoppage time saw Maignan given a red card, via VAR, for clattering Ekuban, Giroud don the gloves, and the resulting free-kick by Albert Gudmundsson diverting off Fikayo Tomori and onto the Milan bar.

Martinez then fouled Musah and was sent off himself, before Giroud came out to bat the ball away from George Puscas as Milan emerged with all three points.

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