Mario Balotelli scored a stunning brace and hit the bar as Milan scrambled a late 2-2 draw away to Livorno.
The Rossoneri hoped to continue their revival after two straight wins over Celtic and Catania, especially as Cristian Zapata and Philippe Mexes returned. Mattia De Sciglio was still not fit to start, so Andrea Poli was make-shift rightback again, while Gabriel took the gloves. The absentee list included Robinho, Ignazio Abate, Sulley Muntari, Matias Silvestre, Marco Amelia and Giampaolo Pazzini. Livorno had lost three on the bounce without scoring, one point from nine rounds, and this week resisted pressure to sack Coach Davide Nicola.
It was a special game for Max Allegri, who had his 200th Serie A match against his hometown club.
Mario Balotelli broke the deadlock after just seven minutes, as Ricky Kaka rolled the ball across the face of goal for the striker to flick in from four yards at the back post. It was his third consecutive game on target.
Federico Ceccherini nodded over from a free kick, while Paulinho flashed a shot off target from a tight angle when he should’ve set up Pasquale Schiattarella. Gabriel showed confidence to pluck a long-range Emerson free kick out of the air.
Livorno were increasing the pressure and Luca Siligardi equalised with a fierce curler that bounced just in front of Gabriel to slot into the far bottom corner. It was the Amaranto’s first goal after firing blanks for three rounds.
Poli did well to intercept a dangerous Alfred Duncan cross with the outside of the boot that was reaching Ibrahima Mbaye, while Duncan’s effort was charged down from a corner.
Birsa hobbled off with a hamstring problem before half-time, replaced by Stephan El Shaarawy.
After the restart, Balotelli flicked a long ball over Andrea Coda to burst into the box and the finish stung Francesco Bardi’s palms under the bar. From that corner, El Shaarawy’s attempt was charged down.
However, Livorno completed their comeback by going 2-1 up. Paulinho sprung the offside trap on a Zapata error and smashed the low drive past Gabriel in a one-on-one at the near post. For the third time this season, Milan had gone from a leading position to trailing.
Kaka’s inspired cross-field assist allowed M’Baye Niang to get round Mbaye, but the finish was well wide from a very promising position.
Milan were pouring forward, which left gaps for Livorno counters and on one of these Siligardi didn’t get enough power behind his shot. Moments later Siligardi had another opportunity that he turned wide of the far post.
Mattia De Sciglio made his comeback for only his third appearance of the season. However, it was Balotelli who got Milan back on level terms with a scorching free kick that flew into the top corner with Bardi rooted to the spot.
In the final minute SuperMario tried again with an amazing dipping strike from over 30 metres that sailed over Bardi’s fingertips to hit the underside of the bar, ricochet off the line and back out again.