Gianluca Lapadula’s late goal snatched Milan’s 2-1 victory over Crotone after Alex Cordaz saved the M’Baye Niang penalty.
The Rossoneri needed a victory to stay in second place and within four points of leaders Juventus, but missed Carlos Bacca, Giacomo Bonaventura, Mati Fernandez, Davide Calabria and Riccardo Montolivo. Bottom of the table Crotone were without Aleksander Tonev, Djamel Mesbah and Claitos Dos Santos, so Bruno Martella stepped in.
These sides had met only once before, a Coppa Italia tie in December 2015 that was 1-1 after 90 minutes, then Milan won 3-1 in extra time.
It was a very aggressive start from the minnows, as Leonardo Capezzi pounced on a poor Gianluigi Donnarumma pass and forced the goalkeeper to fingertip the shot over the bar.
M’Baye Niang wasted a good opportunity by firing off target when Gianluca Lapadula had run into space, while Adrian Stoian blasted over when he had time to control from a corner.
Crotone had the stronger start and took a shock lead at San Siro when Mattia De Sciglio bundled Marcus Rohden over for what would’ve been a penalty, but the ball rolled across for Diego Falcinelli to tap in from six yards.
Milan’s attempts to come back into it were half-hearted, particularly Jose Ernesto Sosa having a nightmare of a performance with repeated shots into the stands.
Niang sprung the offside trap and then hesitated when clear on goal, allowing Ceccherini to dive in with a decisive block. However, from that corner Gabriel Paletta flicked it on for Mario Pasalic to nod in unmarked from four yards, drawing the Rossoneri level.
After the restart there was an extraordinary Milan double miss. A cross found Ignazio Abate’s diving header from a yard, but it was essentially cleared off the line by teammate Lapadula’s hand, not that the striker knew much about it.
Moments later Lorenzo Crisetig was penalised for a challenge on Lapadula, although it seemed to be a clean tackle. Niang fought with Lapadula and insisted on taking the spot-kick, but saw it kept out by a sensational Cordaz save, the ex-Inter goalkeeper sticking up a hand to palm it away from the near top corner.
Marcello Trotta tested Donnarumma, as Crotone remained more than in the running, while the San Siro crowd booed Jose Sosa and Niang off the pitch.
Just as it looked to be heading for a stalemate, a Keisuke Honda free kick ricocheted in the box and Lapadula was quickest to react, rifling home from 12 yards. It was the ex-Pescara striker’s first goal at San Siro and his wild celebrations showed what it meant.
Juraj Kucka was rested to avoid getting a ban for next week’s clash with Roma, but managed to get a booking anyway in his five minutes on the pitch.
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Saved penalty: Niang 53 (M)