Domenico Berardi’s hat-trick saw Sassuolo sink nine-man Milan in a 3-2 thriller, but it included a ‘phantom’ goal.
Both sides had only pride to play for and were fresh from victories, the Rossoneri surprisingly seeing off second-placed Roma. Alessio Cerci, Luca Antonelli, Adil Rami, Riccardo Montolivo, Michael Essien and suspended Jeremy Menez missed out, while the hosts lost Emanuele Terranova, Ciro Polito and Luca Antei.
These two sides had never played out a draw, securing two victories each between Serie A and the Coppa Italia. Sassuolo earned a shock 2-1 win at San Siro back in January and their famous 4-3 result here in January 2014 got Max Allegri sacked.
The deadlock was broken in bizarre and hugely controversial fashion. Domenico Berardi unleashed a seemingly innocuous snapshot from 25 metres out, which Diego Lopez fumbled. The ‘keeper appeared to block the ball just before it had completely crossed the line, but the officials awarded it as a goal anyway. Goal-line technology will be introduced in Serie A next season, as there have been multiple contentious incidents this term.
There were no doubts about the second goal, as Berardi ran on to a Simone Missiroli ball over the top, sprinted past Gabriel Paletta and smacked it on the bounce into the far bottom corner.
Teenager Leonardo Fontanesi performed a crucial block on Marco van Ginkel to stop the tap-in, but from that corner Jack Bonaventura went on a slalom through a crowd of Sassuolo shirts to toe-poke the finish across Andrea Consigli.
Keisuke Honda almost made it 2-0 moments later, his strike beaten away by Consigli and Mattia Destro nodding the follow-up wide. Ignazio Abate was decisive to prevent Nicola Sansone turning in a Davide Biondini cross from seven yards.
Suso replaced injured Abate for the second half, moving Andrea Poli to right-back, and Milan equalised with defender Alex. A corner cross was whipped in by Suso and Consigli paid for his hesitation, as Alex got his head to it first.
Just as the Rossoneri appeared to be taking control of the game, they went down to 10 men, as a foolish handling offence gave Bonaventura his second yellow card. This was their 10th red card of the season, the worst disciplinary record in Serie A.
Diego Lopez fingertipped a Sansone long-range strike over the bar, then performed a desperate save one-on-one with Berardi to deny a hat-trick.
Keisuke Honda was booked for simulation in the box and Berardi did eventually complete that treble. Simone Zaza allowed the Antonio Floro Flores pass through for Berardi to tap in under Diego Lopez from six yards. The Italy Under-21 international loves playing against Milan, as he famously scored four here in Max Allegri’s last game.
Zaza had a fourth in the net, but was flagged offside, while El Shaarawy was booked for kicking the ball away in frustration.
The situation got even worse in stoppages, as Suso received a straight red card for his terrible studs-up tackle on Francesco Magnanelli’s ankle.
Sent off: Bonaventura 57 (M), Suso 94 (M)