When Benevento began their Serie A season back in August, Alberto Brignoli was not even their starting goalkeeper. But from today, he will be remembered as the one who gave his club their first point ever in the top division. His incredible late goal during extra time allowed the Streghe to equalise Milan’s lead, and capture and unexpected 2-2 tie.
Gennaro Gattuso was surely hoping for a different outcome in his debut on the bench of the Diavoli. Goals by Giacomo Bonaventura and Nikola Kalinic, temporarily balanced by George Puscas’ finalization, were pushing him in the right direction. Then the expulsion of Alessio Romagnoli messed up his plans, and forced his side to barricade themselves in their box for the last 20 minutes.
When the clock was striking the 95th minute, Benevento’s goalkeeper advanced into the Rossoneri’s box for the last assault. Danilo Cataldi shot a free kick from the left side, Brignoli was the fastest and his timing was perfect. The Ciro Vigorito Stadium exploded as the Giallorossi’s goalie put the ball past Gianluigi Donnarumma with a predatory header, to join Cremonese’s Michelangelo Rampulla and Reggina’s Massimo Taibi in the elite club of those keepers who scored a goal in Serie A.
Benevento’s first point in the elite division of calcio is a fairy tale to be told to their grandchildren by those who were at the stadium today. But the squad coached by Roberto De Zerbi didn’t steal anything, finally collecting in extra time that point they had seen slipping out of their hands so many times during the latest minutes of previous matches.
The Streghe pushed hard, well supported by a fan base that gathered in mass at their home ground despite the 14 defeats in a row. Ledian Memushaj first, and then Vittorio Parigini on a cross by Marco D’Alessandro scared the Rossoneri with shots that only narrowly missed Donnarumma’s goal, before Milan took the lead almost casually.
It was Giacomo Bonaventura, 37 minutes into the game, to break the balance as he solved in his favor a melee in Benevento’s box with a surgically precise header. Frank Kessié did what he is best at, protecting the ball on the opponent’s goal line and crossing it in for the former Atalanta midfielder. Bonaventura’s header was driven back twice, before he found the right spot to put it past Brignoli for Milan’s 1-0.
Gattuso’s boys lead didn’t last long however, as a few minutes after the break Inter home-grown striker George Puscas made it even, correcting the ball in after a save by Donnarumma. A powerful shot from outside the box by Gaetano Letizia forced Gigio to dive for a great save, but Puscas was faster than three Rossoneri men to push the ball in the net.
Nikola Kalinic put Milan ahead again on the 56th minute, bursting into Benevento’s box to finalize a cross from the right flank by Bonaventura. Then referee Maurizio Mariani punished with a yellow card an intervention by Alessio Romagnoli. The Roman defender had to spend a foul to stop a counterattack by Letizia, but that was his second card, so he was forced to leave the pitch for an early shower.
The last 20 minutes logically turned into an assault from the home side, with Benevento continuing to believe, and Gattuso not afraid to recur to an additional defender – Cristian Zapata for an evanescent Suso – to protect his lead. The plan worked until the last 30, crazy seconds, which reminded us why football is such an incredible, emotional game.
It’s too early to judge Gennaro Gattuso’s new deal of Milan. The most interesting thing seen today was a new module, with Ringhio switching to a 3-4-3, and deploying Giacomo Bonaventura as a winger – a successful experience, as Jack was among the best, after many bad days under Vincenzo Montella’s tenure. Leonardo Bonucci also showed glimpses of the rock-solid defender he used to be.
There is much to work for the Rossoneri coach. But today’s celebrations are all for Benevento’s historical first Serie A point, and their hero for a day Alberto Brignoli.
December 3, 2017 – Serie A 2017-18 Round 15
SCORERS: 38’ Bonaventura (M), 50’ Puscas (B), 57’ Kalinic (M), 95’ Brignoli (B)
|BENEVENTO (4-3-3): Brignoli; Letizia, Djmisti, Costa, Di Chiara (80’ Gyamfi); Memushaj (80′ Coda), Chibsah, Cataldi; D’Alessando, Puscas, Parigini (67′ Brignola) (Belec, Del Pinto, Viola, Venuti, Kanoute, Lombardi, Antei, Gravillon) Coach: De Zerbi|
|MILAN (3-4-3): G. Donnarumma; Musacchio, Bonucci, Romagnoli; Borini (60′ Abate), Kessie, Montolivo (73′ Biglia), Rodriguez; Suso (87′ Zapata), Kalinic, Bonaventura (A. Donnarumma, Storari, Antonelli, Calabria, Gomez, Paletta, Locatelli, Cutrone, André Silva) Coach: Gattuso|
REFEREE: Mr. Mariani from Rome
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Cataldi, Di Chiara (B), Abate, Kessie (M); Red Card: Romagnoli (M).
Feature Photo: © Ansa