Milan vs Spezia 1-2: Aquilotti Shock San Siro in Controversial Ending

If there still was any doubt about Spezia being a nemesis for Milan, the Monday night’s match at the San Siro truly confirmed it. Back in February, the Rossoneri had fallen at the Alberto Picco Stadium, a loss that marked the beginning of Stefano Pioli’s band decline and consequent loss of the top spot in the Serie A table.

Tonight, Thiago Motta’s Aquilotti pulled off an incredible comeback and took home all three points on offer with a shocking 1-2 win as Milan squandered a major chance to overtake cross-town rivals Inter at the top of the table.

Milan took the lead just before half time with a Rafael Leao magic, just after Theo Hernandez had missed a penalty for his side. However, the Bianconeri equalized with a Kevin Agudelo effort on 56 minutes. The Rossoneri protested vehemently at a controversial referee decision that canceled a late Junior Messias goal, just before Emmanuel Gyasi would complete Spezia’s incredible comeback with a last-gasp counterattack effort. It was a game that neither side will easily forget, though for quite opposite reasons.

Rafael Leao Strikes Just Before Half Time

Milan were off to a good start as they began the game on an aggressive note. They came to test Spezia at least three times in the first 30 minutes, first with a Rafael Leao shot defused by Ivan Provedel and then with an Alexis Saelemakers conclusion that was blocked by defender Dimitris Nikolaou. On 24 minutes, Leao found his way for a shot again, narrowly missing the goal target.

Thiago Motta’s side only came to test the Rossoneri on 29 minutes as Gyasi picked Arkadiusz Reca on the left side. Mike Maignan pushed back the Pole’s shot. 

Milan’s pressure ultimately forced the Spezia defense into a mistake. Kelvin Amian came up with a risky back pass for his goalkeeper Provedel, who knocked Leao down in attempt to make up for his teammate’s blunder. The Rossoneri once again failed to convert from the spot – for the third time this season – as Theo Hernandez sent his shot a few inches wide of the left post.

Just one minute later, however, it was once again Rafael Leao to turn into Milan’s added weapon. The Portuguese grabbed a long-range cross and put the ball past Provedel with a superb lob shot, taking advantage of a Nikolaou mistake and sending the home side to the break on a deserved one-goal lead.

Agudelo Addition Changes the Game for Spezia

Provedel saved Spezia again on 56 minutes, neutralizing with his foot a point-blank range shot from Saelemaekers. The Belgian was picked once again by Leao, who was displaying an unstoppable performance to which Spezia had no answer.

But, despite their defensive struggles, the Aquilotti were anything but finished and Maignan had to remind his side to keep their guard up with two back-to-back saves in the space of one minute.

His teammates didn’t listen though, and Milan were soon punished by a lightning-fast counterattack ending with a Daniele Verde service for Kevin Agudelo, who had just come into play for Rey Manaj. The Genoa loanee received the ball in the middle of the box and whipped it past the hapless Maignan, making it 1-1.

Milan caught their breath and their chances started to dwindle. On the contrary, it was Spezia to come closer to make it two. On 81 minutes, Agudelo produced himself in a relentless progression along the right flank but saw his razor-sharp pass in the middle of the box cleared by Davide Calabria.

Referee Controversy Before Gyasi Last-Gasp Goal

The last portion of the game turned into an absolute thriller with Milan retaking command of the operations. The Rossoneri were held back by a controversial referee decision just before full time as ref Marco Serra stopped play to punish a Simone Bastoni tackle on Ante Rebic with a yellow card, ignoring the Rossoneri‘s clear advantage as Rebic had just serviced Junior Messias in the middle of the box.

The referee’s hasty call thus neutralized the former Crotone man’s goal as Messias had found the back of the net with a beautiful curl.

Milan kept looking for the three points but Provedel denied Zlatan Ibrahimovic twice, first deflecting a free-kick shot into corner, and then pushing Zlatan’s subsequent attempt to the crossbar.

Then, the unexpected conclusion. The game seemed destined to end in a 1-1 stalemate but, just before full time, Spezia used again their counterattack weapon to shock the Rossoneri with a textbook fast break ignited by Agudelo and finalized by Gyasi.

Thiago Motta won the game with his changes and made an overly-important step forward in his battle to avoid relegation. Milan, on the other hand, lost an incredible chance to close the gap from the top with Inter and will be left sulking at a referee decision that was controversial to say the least.



January 17, 2022 – Serie A 2021-22 Round 22

SCORERS: 45+1′ Rafael Leao (M), 64′ Agudelo (S), 95′ Gyasi (S)

MILAN (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Florenzi (70′ Calabria), Kalulu, Gabbia, Hernandez; Krunic, Bakayoko; Saelemaekers (57′ Messias), Brahim Diaz (70′ Giroud), Rafael Leao (84′ Rebic); Ibrahimovic (Tatarusanu, Mirante, Stanga, Castillejo, Di Gesù, Maldini) Coach: Pioli
SPEZIA (4-3-3): Provedel; Amian, Erlic, Nikolaou, Reca (77′ Ferrer); Maggiore (80′ Kovalenko), Kiwior, Bastoni; Gyasi, Manaj (58′ Agudelo), Verde (Zoet, Zovko, Bertola, Hristov, Sala, Sher, Antiste, Nzola, Strelec) Coach: Thiago Motta

REFEREE: Mr. Serra from Torino
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Kalulu, Gabbia (M), Gyasi, Kiwior, Provedel, Maggiore, Bastoni (S); Added Time: 1st Half: 2′, 2nd Half: 5′