All Milan needed to do to cement their top spot in the Serie A in the last round of matches was to beat the team at the bottom of the table. It looked very feasible on paper; having beaten Inter in the derby, crushing Lazio in the Coppa Italia and edging out a determined Sampdoria to get to the summit of the league. Expectedly, the level of confidence in the team should be immense.
All indications that it would be an easy outing for the Rossoneri was obvious. Most Milan fans including myself were rubbing their palms together in anticipation of a salivating demolition of the opponents. After all, it was the team at the top of the league against the team at the bottom of the league; a team that hadn’t won a game in their last 4 matches and were visibly struggling to stay afloat.
As anticipated, Milan grabbed the lead in the fifth minute as expected through junior Messias. Theo Hernandez had burst out through the left flank in one of his surging runs at the opposition goal and slid a pass down forward. Olivier Giroud dummied off the defender with a clever run and left Junior Messias to finish from close range. Perfect start for Milan.
It looked like it was going to be a stroll in the park until Goalkeeper Mike Maignan fumbled the ball after an aerial tussle that was deemed to have been completely unnecessary in the 29th minute. This placed the defence in a precarious position and a pudding was served for Federico Bonazzoli who gladly swallowed spectacularly. The Italian striker finished with a very classy overhead to restore parity for the bottom-placed team. The goal proved to be the ignition that Salernitana needed to boost their confidence. The drive to match the top-placed team pound for pound was kindled.
Milan came out smoking hot for the second half, but they met a very resolute Salernitana. The underdogs had graduated, and they were able to absorb all the heat Milan had to launch. Milan started to simmer off in a very lazy fashion. Creativity dwindled and cohesion was faltering. Salernitana took the advantage of this tide to turn on the pressure. In the 72nd, this brave move paid off when Milan Juric nodded home from close range to give the bottom-placed team in the Serie A against the top-placed team to the delight of the home fans.
Milan suddenly lost their spark and looked very sluggish. Their foray into the opposition half lacked steam and precision. Ante Rebic’s provided a sublime equalizer for the Rossoneri in the 77th minute. The whole of Milan’s performance was characterized by their inability to capitalize on Rebic’s goal to change their fortune. It was a very ugly outing for the Diavoli and a brave parade for the I Granata who made the Stadio Arechi roar to life.
Milan must wait for Napoli’s game on Monday to know if they would still be on top of the league table for the next week.