Milan failed to make it three wins in three on Sunday as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Udinese at the San Siro. Familiar problems proved to be Milan's undoing on this occasion, and despite a largely encouraging team performance, this will feel more like two points dropped than one earned.
Milan started positively, dominating possession and creating a number of early chances. However, as the half wore on, Udinese grew into the game and for all their possession, Milan were unable to penetrate a stubborn Bianconeri back line. The absence of Giacomo Bonaventura was felt badly during the first thirty minutes as Juraj Kucka failed to replicate the Italian's productivity down the left hand side and his partnership with Luca Antonelli left a lot to be desired. The lack of service to Carlos Bacca and M'Baye Niang meant that the Rossoneri hardly got a sight of goal, with their only shot on target coming from an uninspired long range effort from Riccardo Montolivo that was easily saved by Orestis Karnezis.
Udinese were continually dangerous on the counter-attack, seizing on any opportunity to break forward at pace. Francesco Lodi was particularly effective as his metronomic passing enabled the Zebrette to pierce the Milan defence with relative ease. It didn't take long for them to make a breakthrough, with former Milan defender Pablo Armero breaking the deadlock in the 17th minute. Despite the best efforts of Gianluigi Donnarumma, whose impressive double save denied Udinese twice in the space of a few seconds, Armero managed to fumble it into the goal on the rebound. Milanisti will doubtless remember the woeful performances Armero put in during his brief time at Milan and this goal will sting all the more as a result.
The first half finished 1-0 to Udinese, and ordinarily that would be it for Milan in a match like this. However, whatever Sinisa Mihajlovic said to the players at halftime clearly had the desired effect, as Milan came out and dominated the second half. An equaliser arrived in no time as Bacca's diagonal through ball found Niang on the left hand side as the Frenchman outran his marker and slotted it into the far corner. Milan continued in this vein for much of the second half as chance after chance was spurned. Bacca should have made it two when his close range header fell straight into the arms of Karnezis.
Andrea Bertolacci nearly got his name on the score sheet as he sent a thunderous strike crashing off the crossbar. Although the ball appeared to cross the line, goal-line technology showed that Karnezis had clawed it away just in time. Riccardo Montolivo had a similar chance late on, though he also fired straight at the goalkeeper. The introduction of Mario Balotelli and Kevin-Prince Boateng added some creativity, although they were every bit as wasteful as their counterparts. The match ultimately finished 1-1, and it's hard not to feel a little shortchanged by this result, given the way Milan pressed for a winning goal in the second half.
As on other occasions this season, it was not so much the defensive solidity of Udinese as it was poor finishing that cost Milan a result on this occasion. Had Giacomo Bonaventura been available, he may have provided a decisive breakthrough, though one suspects it would have ended the same way. This result is undoubtedly an important wakeup call at a time when optimism has probably become a bit too inflated amongst Milanisti. This match could easily have been Milan's for the taking, and the only consolation is that both Inter and Fiorentina failed to pick up wins either. Hopefully Milan can manage better against Genoa next weekend.