Milan ended their Sassuolo curse with an extremely controversial 1-0 win, as Carlos Bacca’s penalty was just one of several strange incidents.
The Rossoneri had previously lost all three trips to the Mapei Stadium, while they won a 4-3 thriller at San Siro in October. Domenico Berardi, who already put eight career goals past Milan in just seven meetings, made his 100th Serie A appearance. Luca Antonelli, Alessio Romagnoli, Jack Bonaventura and Riccardo Montolivo were still sidelined with Mattia De Sciglio back on the bench after a sprained ankle.
In the opening minutes, Jose Ernesto Sosa’s free kick flashed all the way across the face of goal, but Juraj Kucka couldn’t get the tap-in.
There was controversy when these sides met in October and it just continued in Reggio-Emilia, as Berardi went over a late Leonel Vangioni sliding tackle and was harshly booked for simulation. He seemed to be slightly caught, but the rather acrobatic way he went over made the referee think it was a dive.
Moments later, Sassuolo were awarded a penalty for a not dissimilar incident, as Kucka and Alfred Duncan were holding on to each other, but the referee considered it a foul from the Milanista. Berardi stepped up and thought he was going to score his first Serie A goal of the season when he blasted the penalty wide.
The visitors fought back and Gerard Deulofeu’s effort was fingertipped out from under the bar, then they too were awarded a debatable penalty. Andrea Bertolacci dribbled into a crowd and eventually fell under Alberto Aquilani’s challenge.
Carlos Bacca took the spot-kick, slipped over and accidentally touched the ball with both feet. The odd ricochet took it past Consigli anyway, but Sassuolo were furious – the penalty was therefore invalid.
Bacca thought he had another goal with his glancing header, but was correctly this time flagged offside on Sosa’s cross.
After the restart, Aquilani had penalty appeals, but Sosa’s handball cannot be considered voluntary on the back-heel flick, as it went through his legs.
Kucka’s header was off target from a set play, but Sassuolo were understandably angry when Gabriel Paletta completely missed the ball to kick Matteo Politano in the back of the leg – and the referee ignored penalty appeals.
Milan went deeper and deeper as the second half wore on and Gianluigi Donnarumma, who turned 18 yesterday, performed a fine save on Berardi’s deflected effort.
They almost scored a second on the counter-attack, but Consigli got his fingertips to turn Suso’s finish inches past the far post. On the resulting corner, Cristian Zapata was allowed a free header and Consigli flew to push it out from under the bar.
Deep into stoppages, Berardi’s free kick went past everyone and scraped the far post, then with the last kick of the game Suso wasted yet another counter-attack.
Missed penalty: Berardi 12 (S)