Franck Kessie’s brace completed a comeback in Cagliari, as Milan overturned the Nicolò Barella opener and both teams ended with 10 men.
The Sardinians were still smarting after a controversial defeat to Juventus ahead of the two-week Winter break, missing Senna Miangue and suspended Joao Pedro. The Rossoneri had Nikola Kalinic back in the line-up, dropping Fabio Borini and Patrick Cutrone.
Cagliari’s victory in May was their first home win over Milan for 19 years. They had previously celebrated 1-0 in 1998 thanks to a goal from Tiziano De Patre.
There were very strong winds at the Sardegna Arena, making play rather difficult and sometimes changing the flight of the ball.
Perhaps the conditions were partly at fault for the opening goal, as Nicolò Barella cut inside and his seemingly harmless right-foot curler bounced right in front of Gianluigi Donnarumma into the far bottom corner. This was the first time all season that Milan had conceded in the opening 15 minutes.
Artur Ionita blasted over, but the hosts lost Marco Sau to injury early on. Franck Kessie stung Alessio Cragno’s gloves with a scorcher from distance, then the goalkeeper bravely smothered at Nikola Kalinic’s feet.
Donnarumma used his legs in a reaction save on substitute Diego Farias, who was probably offside anyway, but Milan were awarded a penalty for Luca Ceppitelli’s mistimed tackle on Kalinic, as he got the wrong side of the striker. Kessie stepped up and sent Cragno the wrong way to equalise.
Former Atalanta midfielder Kessie was in fine form and rolled across for Kalinic, who scuffed the finish straight at Cragno. However, moments later Kalinic redirected a wayward Davide Calabria effort into the path of Kessie to fire in with his left foot from seven yards. However, there were suspicions of offside for Kalinic in the build-up.
After the restart, Cragno flew to palm away a Jack Bonaventura scorcher from outside the box, but Paolo Faragò turned wide of an open goal after Donnarumma flapped a cross off the head of Leonardo Pavoletti.
Paolo Faragò twice managed to turn Ricardo Rodriguez inside out, forcing bookable offences, so Milan went down to 10 men for the final 10 minutes.
Cagliari also lost Barella to his second yellow card, for a high and late tackle on Lucas Biglia.
With the final kick of the game, Cagliari had a corner and Pavoletti's header whistled inches wide.
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Sent off: Rodriguez 80 (M), Barella 87 (C)