Milan completed an incredible comeback from 3-1 down to beat Sassuolo 4-3 in the space of 20 minutes in this San Siro thriller.
Last season these two sides clashed for European qualification and Sassuolo secured sixth place, so the Rossoneri were out for revenge. Both teams had to deal with injury woes, as Alessio Romagnoli and Davide Calabria failed late fitness tests, while Luca Antonelli, Andrea Bertolacci, Cristian Zapata and Mati Fernandez were out. The visitors missed Stefano Sensi, Alfred Duncan, Simone Missiroli, Marcello Gazzola and Paolo Cannavaro, plus were tired from Thursday’s 3-1 defeat at Genk, so 18-year-old Claud Adjapong got his first Serie A start.
Milan surprisingly dropped M’Baye Niang for Luiz Adriano and had a strong start to the game, taking the lead when Jack Bonaventura’s snapshot took a huge deflection off Francesco Acerbi to leave Andrea Consigli wrong-footed.
However, it lasted only a minute, as Ignazio Abate on his comeback passed straight to Matteo Politano, who kept his cool to draw out Gianluigi Donnarumma and slide his finish into the empty net.
Adjapong thought he’d scored his first Serie A goal on 22 minutes, but it was correctly disallowed for handball during a clumsy diving header at the back post.
Pol Lirola’s dangerous low cross for Gregoire Defrel was crucially intercepted by Gustavo Gomez. Donnarumma was caught in possession by Politano and the goalkeeper ran a big risk, using his strength to nudge him off the ball in a very risky move indeed. Politano saw penalty appeals waved away.
Carlos Bacca blasted wide and Luiz Adriano got his head to an Abate cross when Bonaventura in a better position was absolutely furious.
Vincenzo Montella walked back his experiment, introducing Niang for Luiz Adriano, but was sent off for dissent at half-time.
Consigli got down to beat away a Suso curler, but Sassuolo did turn the game around completely on a set play situation. Lorenzo Pellegrini dinked it to the back post for Acerbi, who had time and space to turn in undisturbed.
Moments later it was 3-1 to the Neroverdi, as Pellegrini completed a give-and-go to enter the box, shimmied past Gustavo Gomez and placed a cool finish into the far bottom corner.
Niang ran between two defenders into the area and fell, the referee pointing to the spot, but the Milan striker was pulling Lirola’s shirt and there didn’t seem to be much contact from Luca Antei either. Nonetheless, Bacca converted to put the hosts back in the match.
It proved a decisive moment, because Milan got it on to 3-3 with a stunner of a debut Serie A goal from Manuel Locatelli. The 18-year-old substitute was on the edge of the box to gather a cleared corner and absolutely blast it into the top corner. He celebrated with his head in his hands, his face clearly showing he couldn’t believe this was happening.
It still wasn’t over, as the Rossoneri managed to restore their lead from 3-1 down to 4-3 in just 20 minutes. Niang was involved again, his cross met by a towering Gabriel Paletta header into the far bottom corner.
Donnarumma was called into a sensational one-handed reaction save on Politano’s left-foot strike from inside the area to prevent Sassuolo going 4-4.