AC Milan hosted Lazio in the late Serie A fixture on Saturday night, with both teams needing a win to keep pace in the race for the fourth and final Champions League spot. AS Roma won earlier in the day, meaning that Milan started the match in 5th place, one point behind Roma, and Lazio started the match in 7th place, three points behind Milan and four points behind their cross-town rivals.
Milan had a couple chances at about the half-hour mark, as Suso had a shot go just over the net from a good feed in the box from Krzysztof Piatek. Almost immediately after that chance, Davide Calabria put a great cross into the box and Piatek’s header went agonizingly wide of the post.
Hakan Calhanoglu had a blistering shot go inches over the crossbar about 10 minutes later, while Ciro Immobile had a shot from a tight angle hit the side netting a in Lazio’s best chance of the half.
Good first half from Milan generally, lively game players look up for it and enjoying themselves. Just need that goal to break the ice. Everything Lazio has gotten we’ve given them.— Para (@Paracelsus) April 13, 2019
The match felt pretty even going into half-time, despite the possession favoring Milan. Both teams had about five chances with Lazio having four shots on target, although Pepe Reina was up to the task and had covered the post on Immobile’s shot.
Joaquín Correa was taken off early in the second half for Lazio, replaced by Felipe Caicedo after Correa took a knock after a challenge from Bakayoko, although the challenge wasn’t extremely aggressive from the Chelsea loanee.
Despite some pressure, Milan continued to fail to get anything going attacking wise. For example, the 60th minute featured a wasted chance, as Suso ran into trouble and his attempted through-ball to Piatek was easily defended by Lazio.
Both Calabria and Milan captain Alessio Romagnoli were forced off due to injury in the 68th minute, with Diego Laxalt and Cristian Zapata coming on. Milan switched to a three central defender formation, with Franck Kessie and Bakayoko playing in front of a back three of Zapata, Ricardo Rodriguez, and Mateo Musacchio, while Laxalt shifted to a wing back position, and Fabio Borini went out to play as an unlikely wingback on the right.
Zapata the spark Milan needed it seems pic.twitter.com/9hMMLTXrom— Para (@Paracelsus) April 13, 2019
Zapata made an immediate impact as the Colombia international went on a run forward and his created chance was nearly converted by Piatek. Not a lot for either team, as both teams looked rather ponderous on the ball and nothing much was developing for either team on the attacking side of the game.
Great penalty by Kessié. Bottom corner cool as you like. 1-0 Milan. pic.twitter.com/wW44xsGxv5— Para (@Paracelsus) April 13, 2019
A couple minutes of controversy ultimately resulted in a penalty for Milan that was slotted home by Kessie. First, a penalty for handball was whistled on Francesco Acerbi, but VAR was consulted and no penalty was given, and despite the Rossoneri colored-glasses, it was the correct decision.
However, Musacchio was taken down in the box after Lazio failed to clear the ball from the resulting corner, and Kessie made no mistake firing the ball into the bottom right corner, putting Milan up 1-0.
Lazio created some late pressure and Patrick Cutrone came on for Piatek. Lazio manager Simone Inzaghi was sent off after Luis Alberto seemed to get a rather harsh yellow card. Lazio seemed to get frustrated the longer the match went on, and Milan started to get a little free in the second half.
Six minutes of stoppage time were given, likely because of the length of time it took for Milan to switch players after both Romagnoli and Calabria came off injured. Rodriguez made an incredible challenge in the dying embers of the match on Sergej Milinković-Savić that resulted in a few shouts for a penalty, but nothing was given.
However, in the end Milan were able to pick up a vital win in their effort towards qualifying for next year’s Champions League. Milan will have to wait for Atalanta’s match against Empoli on Monday to see if they will sit alone in fourth place or if their neighbors will be able to get back to being level on points.