AC Milan hosted Sassuolo tonight at the San Siro, looking to get all three points and jump above Inter Milan in the Serie A table. Milan restored their regular starting XI after a change in midweek for the Coppa Italia match against Lazio, and it was a return to winning ways, if the process itself left a lot to be desired.
Milan were second-best for large stretches of the match, but they did enough to get a goal from a corner and while Sassuolo pushed the rossoneri at times, they were down to 10 men after their keeper had gotten a red denying Krzysztof Piatek a chance on goal. In the end, Milan was just too much for Sassuolo.
The match started out with a little Milan pressure, but Sassuolo soon struck back. Gigio Donnarumma had an excellent save on Filip Đuričić around the 20th minute, as Sassuolo had started to apply a good amount of pressure on Milan after an opening spell of possession. Đuričić beat Alessio Romagnoli to the ball in the box his shot to the far post was intercepted by Donnarumma, who did enough to palm the ball away before picking it up and snuffing out the danger.
Piatek then did well to hang on the ball after some aggressive defense in the box from Sassuolo. Piatek then picked out Suso, who was able to get a cross in towards Lucas Paquetà, but it was deflected and Paquetà couldn’t get a good touch on the ball and it went out harmlessly. Kessie put a ball across the face of goal a few minutes later, but there was no one at the far post and the attack again came to nothing.
Çalhanoğlu does excellent here to start this attack and win the corner pic.twitter.com/OdBXKacnxk— Para (@Paracelsus) March 2, 2019
Paquetà again came close after Calhanoglu skipped past a heavy challenge from Merih Demiral, who left a huge gaping hole in the Sassuolo defense. Calhanoglu’s cross almost found the Brazilian midfielder at the far post, but it was deflected out for a corner kick.
GOAL Milan— Para (@Paracelsus) March 2, 2019
Musacchio and Piątek combine to force the ball in at the front post pic.twitter.com/5qIvBrtwjI
Milan scored the opening goal from the resulting corner. It wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done as Mateo Musacchio appeared to be the last Milan player to get a touch on the ball in the tumble of bodies inside the six-yard box, although it was credited as an own goal for Sassuolo’s Pol Lirola.
Sassuolo’s Jérémie Boga had a couple good chances to bring the visitors level in the next few minutes. First, he had a brilliantly curling shot that was unable to beat the post after flying past the outstretched hands of Donnarumma, and then he had a goal pulled back after he was clearly offsides.
The rest of the half passed without much going on and Milan were probably a bit lucky to take a 1-0 lead into the second half. Sassuolo had a little more of the possession and had more attempts on goal, but Milan did a better job of making their shots count, even with the own goal/Musacchio goal coming in a scrum in front of goal.
The second half was pretty back and forth, and Bakayoko was subbed off for Lucas Biglia in the 56th minute after Bakayoko had already gotten an early yellow and was starting to get a little more aggressive in the tackle.
That whole sequence started from Kessié’s cleverness to win the ball back and play it deep to Piątek. Consigli misjudges the bounce and pulls Piątek back, red card. pic.twitter.com/fYK9wMwYHF— Para (@Paracelsus) March 2, 2019
The biggest talking point in the second half, however, was the red card given to the Sassuolo keeper Andrea Consigli. Consigli had misjudged a ball over the top and came out of his box to deal with it. Piatek had chased down the ball and after the ball had gone over his head, Consigli reached out to try and pull down Piatek as he ran past him, sending Piatek to the floor and Consigli into the referee’s book.
VAR was consulted, but the red card stood and Sassuolo was forced into a change, bringing on backup keeper Gianluca Pegolo for Francesco Magnanelli. Samu Castillejo then came on for Paquetà in the 73rd minute, with Sassuolo also making a change, bringing on Alessandro Matri for Đuričić.
The game settled down in pace a lot after the substitutions, as Milan just looked content to let the match die down and take their 1-0 win at home, while Sassuolo were always going to be unable to mount a serious challenge down a man on the road at the San Siro. Piatek was taken off in the 83rd minute, giving Patrick Cutrone a short run in the dying embers of the match. Franck Kessie took a knock late on, but he was able to continue, and in the end, Milan had just enough to send them through to a 1-0 win and into third place in the table.