Friday, February 23, 2024

AC Milan pay the penalty for two missed spot-kicks as Bologna snatch late draw

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 27 Jan 2024

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AC Milan blew their chance to put pressure on the two teams above them in Serie A as Riccardo Orsolini’s late penalty snatched a 2-2 draw for Bologna in an eventful clash at the San Siro.

The hosts missed two penalties of their own but still looked set to take the three points when Ruben Loftus-Cheek headed his second goal of the game with just seven minutes left on the clock.

Loftus-Cheek had earlier cancelled out an opener from Joshua Zirkzee, but Milan’s wasteful spot-kicks cost them with both Olivier Giroud and Theo Hernandez failing to convert for the third-placed side.

Play at the San Siro had been stopped in the 16th minute in support of Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan, who suffered racial abuse in their match at Udinese last weekend.

Fans lit up the stadium with smartphone torches while a quote from Martin Luther King – “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that” – was shown on a big screen.

Milan were intent on a fifth straight win to close the gap on city rivals Inter, and Rafael Leao had the first real chance in the 19th minute when he fired straight at Bologna keeper Lukasz Skorupski.

But the lively visitors were rewarded for their early ambition in the 29th minute when Zirkzee lashed home a loose ball after Milan failed to clear around the edge of their box.

Milan responded through Simon Kjaer who fired over the bar from a dangerous Christian Pulisic cross, then Pulisic himself missed an opportunity after being played in by Loftus-Cheek.

Milan were awarded their first penalty in the 39th minute for a foul by Lewis Ferguson on Kjaer, but Giroud missed his chance with a soft spot-kick that was comfortably gathered by Skorupski.

But the hosts’ frustrations only lasted six minutes before Loftus-Cheek raced onto a cross from the left to grab his third goal in his last four games.

Zirkzee had two good chances to put the visitors back in front, while Tijjani Reijnders hit the woodwork before the hosts amazingly squandered another spot-kick.

With Giroud having been substituted, Theo Hernandez stepped up, but hit the post after Riccardo Calafiori had been penalised for his challenge on Leao.

Milan finally grabbed the lead for the first time in the 83rd minute when Loftus-Cheek rose highest to head past Skorupski and seemingly set his side on their way to another three points.

But there was to be a final twist and after Victor Kristiansen came close to levelling, Bologna were awarded a penalty of their own on the stroke of full-time, which Orsolini showed the hosts how it was done with a firm low strike.

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