With three goals scored during added time, the spectators at the Stadio Castellani in Empoli were treated with some last minute drama on Saturday night as Milan prevailed over the home Azzurri in Serie A matchday 8 to retain their third spot in the league table.
The Rossoneri overcame Empoli’s resistance by a 3-1 score with goals from Ante Rebic, Fodé Ballo-Touré, and Rafael Leao after Nedim Bajrami had netted the home side’s temporary equalizer.
However, Milan’s victory came at a cost as Stefano Pioli lost three additional players ahead of the Champions League double confrontation with Chelsea and the next Serie A game which will see the Rossoneri welcome Juventus at the San Siro.
Alexis Saelemaekers, Davide Calabria, and Simon Kjaer all left the pitch before full time due to injuries, adding to Milan’s woes as Pioli’s side was already missing some key players like Mike Maignan between the sticks and Theo Hernandez on the left flank.
The Rossoneri dominated possession for most of the game but managed to open a breach in Empoli’s defense only 80 minutes into the game. They took advantage of a sounding mistake on the part of the Azzurri‘s defense, who left Rafael Leao free to be served by Sandro Tonali from a throw-in.
The Portuguese was positioned beyond Empoli’s defensive line but was considered in play as he received the ball from a throw-in. It was child’s play for him to serve Rebic, who didn’t hesitate to beat Guglielmo Vicario to break the deadlock.
The game seemed over as never had Empoli managed to trouble the Rossoneri‘s backup goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu, save for a Liam Henderson shot in the first half that had narrowly missed the target. And still, the Azzurri grabbed an unexpected equalizer when Bajrami nailed a perfect free kick on 92 minutes.
Milan put their heads again two minutes later as Ballo-Touré received the ball from a Rade Krunic header and put it into the back of the net from point-blank range. Rafael Leao completed the Rossoneri‘s stoppage time blitz with a fine chip that set the score at 1-3 and made Pioli breathe a sigh of relief.