A disappointing 2-1 defeat to Torino at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday night saw reigning champions AC Milan lose ground on Serie A leaders Napoli, who are now six points ahead of the Rossoneri, after an impessive performance and win from the Partenopei against Sassuolo on Matchday 12.
The Granata left the Rossoneri stunned with two first-half goals from Koffi Djidji and Aleksei Miranchuk and the Milanese giants could not recover when the game resumed. Although Junior Messias pulled a goal back midway through the second period.
Wasteful Rossoneri punished
Milan could have taken control of the game inside the opening 10 minutes, had Stefano Pioli’s men been more clinical in front of goal. However, of all players, star boy Rafael Leao wasted the few chances that the visitors created.
On three minutes, the Portugal international sliced a volley well wide of goal despite being left with plenty of time to hit the target and moments later failed to connect cleanly with an even better chance provided again by Brahim Diaz. With their frustrations visible, Leao again sent a shot from the edge of the box high over the Granata crossbar.
Then, when the Rossoneri commented another needless foul 35 yards from goal, Torino struck. Valentino Lazaro sending over a dangerous cross and Djidji glanced a header past Ciprian Tatarusanu and in off the post. With Milan still in shock. Two minutes later, they failed to clear a long ball from goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic and Miranchuk collected the loose ball and fired in a second.
New arrivals continue to struggle
Both Divock Origi and Tommaso Pobega – who spent last season on loan at Torino from Milan – started the match for the Diavolo, but looked far from the quality required when Pioli looks to utilise his squad. The ex-Liverpool striker struggled to get involved in the game and was a lonely figure spearheading the attack. Whereas the energy shown by Pobega largely resulted in committing several needless fouls in midfield.
Coming off the substitute bench, Charles De Ketelaere and Sergino Dest had 45 minutes to finally make an impact in a Rossoneri shirt, but displayed the same poor decision-making as their teammates, and it was one of last season’s champions that gave Milan brief hope of a comeback.
After defending resolutely for 67 minutes, though, the Granata gave their own display of calamitous organisation to allow Milan back into the game. This time, Diavolo defender Matteo Gabbia sent a long-ball down field that Torino captain Alessandro Buongiorno failed to control and, with Milinkovic-Savic having rushed out, left Messias to curl the ball into an empty goal.
The Rossoneri will have little time to dwell on their performance in Turin, though, with a crucial Champions League clash with RB Salzburg on Wednesday night at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, that will decide which of the pair progress to the knockout stages when the competition resumes in February 2023.