Nikola Kalinic’s first goal of 2018 cancelled out a Matteo Politano strike, but a point apiece does precious little for Milan or Sassuolo.
The Rossoneri needed a victory to close on the top four and consolidate their own Europa League position too, as Inter and Roma both lost this weekend. Davide Calabria and Andrea Conti were injured, so Ignazio Abate made his first appearance in two months. The visitors were struggling to avoid relegation, but unbeaten in four, having to do without suspended Claud Adjapong and Francesco Magnanelli.
Curiously, these sides had never previously played a stalemate in Serie A, with five Diavolo wins and four losses, home and away.
It was almost an extraordinary start after 55 seconds, as a Ricardo Rodriguez cross found Franck Kessie unmarked at the back post, but he bizarrely tried to cushion it in with his chest rather than his head and Andrea Consigli clawed it off the line.
There was more bad news for the hosts, who lost Alessio Romagnoli to a thigh injury within five minutes, making way for Mateo Musacchio.
Hakan Calhanoglu’s scorcher was beaten out from under the bar and Consigli was also alert on a Suso snapshot and the Spaniard’s cross-shot curler.
Kessie tested Consigli at the near post twice in quick succession, but at the other end Gianluigi Donnarumma only parried a Matteo Politano strike and stuck out a leg to stop any Sassuolo players turning in the rebound.
It was wide open at San Siro, Consigli again called into action on Jack Bonaventura at the base of the near post and Simone Missiroli flashing an effort across the face of goal.
Gennaro Gattuso had to take a gamble, so threw striker Andre Silva on for full-back Abate, moving to a three-man defence. Antonino Ragusa caught Biglia in possession to surge into the box, but the finish was straight at Donnarumma.
Calhanoglu’s daisy-cutter was wide, but Sassuolo eventually took one of the chances allowed when Milan were too slow to clear their lines.
This time the offside flag stayed down, as Mazzitelli’s headed assist over the top sent Politano clear and he kept his cool to drill right-footed into the far bottom corner.
The tension got to Leonardo Bonucci, who was booked for dissent after a Ricardo Rodriguez push and will therefore be suspended for next week’s showdown with Napoli.
Nikola Kalinic managed to shake off his marker and get on the end of a smart cross, but then turned a free header over the bar.
However, the Croatian made up for it moments later, as he controlled a difficult Musacchio ball with his back to goal, spun round Lemos and smashed it off the underside of the bar from 10 yards. It was Kalinic’s first goal of 2018.
He had another chance in stoppages, but the header from a corner was straight at Consigli and Calhanoglu blasted over from a corner.
Consigli completed his Man of the Match performance at the 95th minute with a stunning fingertip save to turn Bonaventura’s scorcher round the post from the edge of the box.
See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with Eurotips.co.uk