Ante Rebic completed his brace with the last kick of the game, as Milan snatched a dramatic, twisting and turning 3-2 victory over Udinese.
The Rossoneri had won three on the bounce between league and Coppa Italia since moving to a 4-4-2 formation, inspired by Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Hakan Calhanoglu, Lucas Biglia, Davide Calabria, Mateo Musacchio and Leo Duarte were injured, so Andrea Conti, new signing Simon Kjaer and veteran Jack Bonaventura stepped in, with Suso, Lucas Paqueta and Krzysztof Piatek again benched. Udinese had won three consecutive Serie A matches and won when these sides last met back in August.
Over 60,000 fans flocked to San Siro, largely to welcome Ibrahimovic’s first start in this stadium since 2012.
However, it was a disastrous start for the hosts, as Gianluigi Donnarumma – who had been in doubt with a muscular issue – came flying off his line to almost the corner flag, ran into Kevin Lasagna and Jens Stryger-Larsen did well to steer his long ball into the empty net.
There was almost a second, as Ken Sema got down the left and pulled back for Lasagna, who fired first time just over the bar.
Milan had penalty appeals for Rodrigo Becao charging down Leao’s pull-back at the by-line, but the VAR booth assured it struck his shoulder and not arm.
The first real shot on target from the Rossoneri wasn’t until the 35th minute with Samu Castillejo’s scuffed turn in the box, then Ibrahimovic at full stretch couldn’t quite get his foot to a Theo Hernandez pass at the near post.
Udinese went three against two on a rapid counter, but Andrea Conti made a decisive last-ditch tackle on Lasagna. Bram Nuytinck charged down a Leao control and volley on the stroke of half-time.
Stefano Pioli introduced Ante Rebic for Jack Bonaventura, but Udinese remained the more dangerous side, as Lasagna breezed past Kjaer to force a one-handed Donnarumma save at the near post. It was wide open and Musso had to use his legs to parry Castillejo’s scuffed finish on a Leao pull-back.
Milan equalised with their substitute Rebic, who ghosted through the middle of the penalty area to meet Conti’s pull-back from the right. It was his first Serie A goal for the club and sparked a frantic second half.
It became end to end stuff, with the midfields by-passed entirely and Donnarumma performing a series of incredible saves on Lasagna, from point-blank range on Rolando Mandragora when the offside trap failed, then flying on a Stefano Okaka strike from distance.
When Mandragora’s pass did squirm under the goalkeeper in the six-yard box, Kjaer managed to clear for a corner. Leao’s strike from the edge of the box practically hit Musso on the chest, the ‘keeper saving almost by accident, then the Portuguese forward’s effort on a Rebic assist was deflected from close range.
On that corner, Milan turned the game around completely, as it was cleared to 20-25 metres out, where Theo Hernandez hit an unstoppable left-foot volley low into the far bottom corner. The left-back is Milan’s top scorer this season with five Serie A goals.
It remained open, De Paul’s cross-shot flying past Okaka, Lasagna and the far post, while Ibrahimovic fired over after a smart Leao through ball.
Udinese equalised on 85 minutes, as Stryger-Larsen got down the right and floated a cross, where Lasagna ran backwards to peel away from Conti and off balance still steer the header into the far corner.
Both teams wanted to win it, Ilija Nestorovski scuffing just wide, then Rade Krunic unable to make the most of an Ibrahimovic knock-down.
With practically the last kick of the game, Rebic popped up again with a dramatic winner. He gathered on the edge of the box, cut inside with a dummy and managed to thread his left-foot finish through a crowd of legs into the far bottom corner to send San Siro wild.
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