Milan Cruise Past Parma Despite Zlatan Ibrahimovic Send Off

Milan took all the three points on offer at the Ennio Tardini Stadium but suffered a bit more than expected against relegation-threatened Parma on Saturday night. Stefano Pioli’s side took a double lead with Ante Rebic and Frank Kessié, before seeing Zlatan Ibrahimovic picking up a red card and the Gialloblu pulling one back to keep the match outcome uncertain until the end.  

Rafael Leao’s goal during stoppage time pulled the chestnuts out of the fire for the Rossoneri who will enjoy the second place in the Serie A table for at least one more week as they continue to chase a spot into next season’s Champions League.

Coming into the game, second-to-last Parma had a chance to distance themselves further from bottom-ranked Crotone – who lost to Spezia earlier in the day – and gain some points over relegation contenders Cagliari and Torino. Roberto D’Aversa’s side had a bad start but were suddenly put back on track when the visitors found themselves with one man less.

Still, they couldn’t manage to re-balance the match and, if Torino or Cagliari pick up any point this weekend, their struggle for survival will take a turn for the worse. 

The first attempt on goal of the game was a Franck Kessié shot from outside the box that was deflected into corner by goalkeeper Luigi Sepe. That set the trend of the game as Milan’s opener followed soon after, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic releasing Ante Rebic into the box, and the Croatian striker brilliantly finishing with his right foot to set the Rossoneri off to a good start.

Despite conceding an early goal, Parma didn’t get scared and seemed able to put some pressure on the visitors, but their attacking lines didn’t manage to give Gianluigi Donnarumma any cause for concern. Milan limited themselves to control the game and delivered some more damage the next time their showed themselves around the Crociati‘s area.

Two minutes before the half time interval, Theo Hernandez’s give-and-go with Zlatan set Kessié free to shot and this time the Ivorian made no mistake, whipping  the ball into the top corner of Sepe’s goal.

Andreas Cornelius replaced Gervinho in Parma’s front line as coach Roberto D’Aversa tried to shake things up for the Gialloblu after the restart. But Parma’s good intention crashed into Donnarumma, who kept the score unchanged with a double save early into the second period before former Rossonero Juraj Kucka’s acrobatic conversion attempt ended out of the target.

The Crociati got an unexpected chance to get back in the game as Zlatan Ibrahimovic said a word too much to referee Fabio Maresca, who showed him his marching orders on 60 minutes. D’Aversa then sent in Alberto Grassi for Hernani, bringing some fresh forces into his midfield as he tried to make the best of the one-man advantage.

Parma soon pulled one back as Graziano Pellé headed the ball for Riccardo Gagliolo and the Swedish-Italian left back was a split second faster that Gianluigi Donnarumma to push the ball into the back of the net.

Milan thus found themselves forced to defend a narrow lead in the last 25 minutes. Stefano Pioli switched to a more defensive setup as Soualiho Meité, Rade Krunic, and Matteo Gabbia all made their entrance to  the pitch and Donnarumma gritted his teeth despite a hand injury he picked up in the occasion of Parma’s goal.

On 83 minutes, Rafael Leao replaced goal-scorer Ante Rebic for Milan while Roberto D’Aversa came up with an audacious substitution as 16-year-old winger Chaka Traoré took defender Andrea Conti’s spot.

The youngster was quick to send the visitors a warning sign with a header crashing above the crossbar, but paid the price for inexperience as he lost the ball to Diogo Dalot and the Portuguese triggered his countryman Leao’s counterattack resulting in Milan’s final goal on 93 minutes. The Rossoneri could thus breathe a sigh of relief and keep their Champions League dreams unchanged.  



April 10, 2021 – Serie A 2020-21 Round 30

SCORERS: 8′ Rebic (M), 43′ Kessié (M), 65′ Gagliolo (P), 93′ Rafael Leao (M)

PARMA (4-3-3): Sepe; Conti (84′ Traore), Bani, Gagliolo, Pezzella (74′ Busi); Kucka, Hernani (63′ Grassi), Kurtic; Man, Pellè, Gervinho (46′ Cornelius) (Colombi, Laurini, Bruno Alves, Valenti, Osorio, Dierckx, Brugman, Camara) Coach: D’Aversa
MILAN (4-2-3-1): G. Donnarumma; Kalulu (78′ Gabbia), Kjaer, Tomori, Hernandez; Bennacer (72′ Meité), Kessié; Saelemaekers (72′ Diogo Dalot), Calhanoglu (77′ Krunic), Rebic (84′ Rafael Leao); Ibrahimovic (Tatarusanu, A. Donnarumma, Castillejo, Tonali, Hauge, Mandzukic, Brahim Diaz) Coach: Pioli

REFEREE: Mr. Maresca from Napoli
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Bani, Pezzella, Gagliolo, Kucka (P), Calhanoglu, Hernandez, Kessié, Meité (M); Red Card: Ibrahimovic (M); Extra Time: 1st Half 0′, 2nd Half 5′