Milan really cut it fine, scoring twice in the last six minutes to win 2-1 in Siena and secure a Champions League place.
It was all in the Rossoneri’s hands, as a win here would secure third place regardless of what Fiorentina did in Pescara. Sulley Ali Muntari was suspended with Kevin-Prince Boateng, Bojan Krkic and Nigel De Jong injured, but Riccardo Montolivo returned and Stephan El Shaarawy was benched. Siena were already relegated, but caused big problems for Napoli last week, so had no intention of being sacrificial lambs. At the same time, Siena have only beaten Milan once, home and away, with two draws and 14 defeats.
The visitors came out fighting, as in the opening minutes Gianluca Pegolo already had to beat away a Robinho snapshot and Mario Balotelli screamer. However, as news filtered through from Pescara that Fiorentina were in front, Siena started notching up a series of corners and Massimo Ambrosini risked giving away a penalty for a shirt-tug on Roberto Vitiello. M’Baye Niang had to anticipate Mattia Rubin, who was free at the back post.
Pegolo flew to palm a Robinho curler round the upright, but Siena took the lead after the Milan defence fell asleep.
Alessandro Rosina chipped up a pass and Claudio Terzi was allowed a free header to beat Christian Abbiati. The defender was completely ignored, so it was not surprising this was the 15th header Milan have conceded this season.
Antonio Nocerino volleyed an Ignazio Abate cross over from six yards, then Balotelli’s header smacked against the crossbar from point-blank range.
However, Siena were threatening a second too and Innocent Emeghara’s cheeky backheel flick was deflected out for a corner off Cristian Zapata, Rosina’s cross flashed past everyone in the six-yard box.
In first half stoppages Balotelli’s fierce free kick was palmed away by Pegolo, as Milan went into the break trailing.
Giampaolo Pazzini replaced the deeply disappointing Niang for the second half, but Milan were still moving the ball around far too slowly and not creating any chances.
Philippe Mexes wanted a penalty for a handling offence, but he appeared to kick it on to Rubin’s leg from point-blank range and it ricocheted back up on to his hand.
El Shaarawy was finally introduced and his powerful drive was plucked out of the air by the goalkeeper, then his header was over the bar from close range.
It got even worse for the Rossoneri, as captain Ambrosini was sent off for a sliding tackle on to Calello, his second booking. At least it evened up, as moments later Christian Terlizzi was sent off for a very high tackle on Pazzini.
Balotelli was booked when he wanted a penalty, as both had their feet high in the box, then Abbiati got down to smother an Emeghara snapshot.
Pegolo bravely blocked at Balotelli’s feet, then beat away one of Super Mario’s powerful free kicks. Siena threatened on the counter-attack, but El Shaarawy got back to stop Agra from shooting.
The referee pointed to the spot when Dias Felipe hauled down Balotelli in the box. Balotelli kept his cool, as always, to convert the penalty, but Milan needed a victory.
They poured forward in desperate waves and it paid off! Mexes chested down a cross and his first shot seemed to be blocked by Pegolo, but he lost control of it and the French defender managed to toe-poke it in from a couple of yards.
Referee Bergonzi accidentally showed a red card to Felipe instead of the yellow and apologised, but Milan played out the final minutes to secure a Champions League spot.
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Sent off: Ambrosini 68 (M), Terlizzi 69 (S)