Milan did the bare minimum to scrape past 10-man Sassuolo thanks to an unlucky Pol Lirola own goal, but still fly into third place ahead of Inter.
As the Nerazzurri lost 2-1 to Cagliari last night, the Rossoneri knew a win would allow them to leapfrog their city rivals into third place. Mattia Caldara, Jack Bonaventura and Cristian Zapata were still out, but Suso and Hakan Calhanoglu returned after Tuesday’s Coppa Italia semi-final draw with Lazio. The visitors welcomed back Domenico Berardi from suspension, but Alfred Duncan was banned with Marlon injured. It was a return to San Siro for ex-Rossoneri midfielder Manuel Locatelli.
Sassuolo have a traditionally tricky time against Milan, managing just one point from their last six Serie A meetings, with the most recent victory in March 2016.
Gianluigi Donnarumma had to make the first genuine save after 21 minutes, and what a save it was, as he got down incredibly quickly for a one-handed parry when Filip Djuricic got a toe to Pol Lirola’s low cross from seven yards, anticipating Alessio Romagnoli.
At the other end, Lucas Paqueta mistimed his attempted volley at the back post and practically tripped on the ball after Suso’s cross.
The deadlock was broken from a set play, as Hakan Calhanoglu curled a corner into the crowd, where Lirola seemed to get the final touch with his chest from point-blank range, in a crush with Krzysztof Piatek and Mateo Musacchio.
Sassuolo fought back and Jeremie Boga was leading the way with a sensational curling strike that bent around Donnarumma and bounced off the far post.
Moments later, Boga had broken away from defenders and placed a delicate lob over Donnarumma, but he was flagged offside.
In stoppages, Donnarumma was again alert to push a Djuricic free kick off the line and get it back under control before anyone else could pounce.
Berardi drilled wide and Djuricic missed a sitter, even if he was also offside, as Milan were pegged back into their own half. Tiemoue Bakayoko risked a second yellow card and was hauled off for Lucas Biglia.
Instead, Sassuolo went down to 10 men in a bizarre situation. First Donnarumma got down well to beat away a Berardi snapshot, then Milan pumped a long ball down the pitch, Consigli miscalculated the bounce as he came out to head it clear, then made matters worse by touching Piatek on the shoulder as the striker was running into an empty penalty area. It was only a light touch, but the referee stood by his decision of a straight red card after viewing it on VAR. Consigli had no reason to do any of it, as Demiral was back there and could’ve intercepted.
Franck Kessie fired straight at substitute goalkeeper Gianluca Pegolo on a Piatek assist, but Donnarumma still had work to do on the Alessandro Matri angled drive.
Kessie had another big chance on the counter, but Demiral stuck to him like glue and made a decisive last-ditch block. Sassuolo down to 10 men stayed in the running and Berardi curled a free kick just over, earned again by the indomitable Boga.
Ricardo Rodriguez even got a yellow card for time-wasting in stoppages.
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Sent off: Consigli 64 (S)