Milan’s European ambitions took a huge knock with this surprise 2-1 home defeat to relegation-threatened Empoli, as Suso saw a penalty parried.
The Rossoneri were hoping to take advantage of Inter’s capitulation at Fiorentina to break away in the race for Europe, but hosted an Empoli side revitalised by their controversial win in Florence. Fresh from a last-gasp 2-2 derby draw, Vincenzo Montella had Mario Pasalic back from suspension, but Alessio Romagnoli wasn’t risked after a knee problem and Gianluca Lapadula preferred to Carlos Bacca. The visitors lost Uros Cosic, suspended Rade Krunic and couldn’t count on Marcel Buchel after his fainting spell in training.
Empoli had only beaten Milan twice in 23 Serie A meetings and both were 1-0 results at San Siro in April 2003 and October 2007, along with 15 losses and nine draws.
The visitors had a relatively strong start, testing Gianluigi Donnarumma with Mame Thiam, while Lapadula’s shot was beaten away from 12 yards.
Donnarumma stuck up a hand to tip the Omar El Kaddouri effort out from under the bar, but Jose Sosa and Suso attempts didn’t particularly trouble Lukasz Skorupski.
Manuel Pasqual’s cross was charged down at the near post for a corner. From that El Kaddouri set play, Cristian Zapata let Levan Mchedlidze get in front of him to nod in an Empoli opener.
Bad news for Empoli after the restart, as goalscorer Mchedlidze was stretchered off with what could be a serious knee injury, as he landed very badly.
Suso cut in from the flank to curl wide with his left foot, but Milan earned a penalty after a chaotic move. Gerard Deulofeu’s cross found Lapadula to force one of the first real saves from Skorupski and in an attempt to stop Pasalic getting on the rebound, the goalkeeper bumped into the back of him. Skorupski made up for the error, sticking out a foot to parry Suso’s terrible central spot-kick and got back up to deny the Lapadula follow-up too.
Carlos Bacca came off the bench and immediately failed to turn in from close range after Skorupski fumbled a corner. Moments later, Empoli doubled their lead, as Massimo Maccarone knocked down a cross for Mame Thiam, who was given too much time and space to control and fire in from 12 yards.
Milan fought back from 2-0 down last week and tried it again, as Lapadula ran from midfield and picked his spot for a precise finish into the far bottom corner.
Skorupski did just enough to stop Lucas Ocampos meeting a Deulofeu assist and some desperate defending kept out an indirect free kick from six yards.
Empoli almost added a third to finish it, but Donnarumma stood tall for a remarkable one-handed save when Maccarone was clear on goal.
At the other end, Skorupski fingertipped away a Gabriel Paletta header from a corner and on the rebound Lucas Ocampos volleyed it on to the crossbar.
Mario Pasalic struck the side-netting under pressure from a Keisuke Honda assist, then the same Chelsea-owned midfielder nodded a Deulofeu cross wide and Donnrumma kept the game alive in seven minutes of stoppages with his save on Thiam.
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Saved pen: Suso 59 (M)