Milan vs Verona 3-2: Rossoneri Stage Spectacular Second Half Comeback

Injury-depleted Milan staged an incredible second half comeback on Saturday night to cancel a double lead from Verona and perfect their best Serie A start (22 points out of 24 available) since three points per win are awarded in the Italian top-flight.

Igor Tudor’s Scaligeri ended the first half on a two-goal advantage, courtesy of Gianluca Caprari’s early lead and a penalty conversion from Antonin Barak. Milan, however, stormed back after the restart, halving the deficit with a sumptuous Olivier Giroud header and drawing level with Franck Kessié from the spot. An unfortunate Koray Gunter own goal gift-wrapped the Rossoneri all three points on offer.

It was another spectacular Serie A night at the San Siro and while Milan may have come on top, the visitors also deserve a full round of applause for their thunderous first half. Too bad that they somehow switched off the light after the break.

For Verona, Igor Tudor recovered his captain Miguel Veloso from the start. On the front line, former Milan forward Nikola Kalinic relegated Giovanni Simeone to the bench in Verona’s 3-4-2-1 where Antonin Barak and Gianluca Caprari supported the lone striker.

With Mike Maignan set to miss the next two months of games due to a hand injury, Milan’s post were guarded by Ciprian Tatarusanu. Stefano Pioli couldn’t count on Theo Hernandez and Brahim Diaz either, who both contracted COVID. However, the Rossoneri coach recovered at least Olivier Giroud – who spearheaded the attack supported by Alexis Saelemaekers, Daniel Maldini and Ante Rebic – and (hear! hear!) Zlatan Ibrahimovic, though the big Swede started from the bench. 

With such a depleted squad, Milan were expected to struggle but it was the Verona approach to make headlines as the Gialloblu didn’t wait long to take control of the proceedings. 

After just six minutes, Ivan Ilic whipped the ball towards Tatarusanu but Milan’s backup goalie covered well the near post. Soon later, however, they opened the scoring at the San Siro. Veloso won a tackle with Frank Kessié and headed the ball for Caprari, who was fast to sneak between Davide Calabria and Fikayo Tomori to bend Tatarusanu’s hands with a deadly conclusion.

Milan seemed to gain courage only after 15 minutes but it was a short-lasting illusion. On 24 minutes, Verona doubled their lead as Alessio Romagnoli knocked down Kalinic in the box. Referee Alessandro Prontera had no hesitation and the VAR confirmed his decision. Barak made no mistake from the spot to bring the Scaligeri to 2-0.

Since when in rain, it pours, Milan also lost Ante Rebic to an injury on 35 minutes. It was Rafael Leao to replace the Croatian, who was one of the only few positive notes so far among the Rossoneri lines. Leao’s header from an Ismael Bennacer set piece was Milan’s most dangerous chance in the first half but it ended wide of the post. 

Pioli made a double change after the restart, bringing in Rade Krunic for Maldini and Samu Castillejo for Saelemaekers. Tudor replied with Bosko Sutalo for the booked Federico Ceccherini. 

It was Pioli’s changes to make the difference, however, as the second half was a completely different story and saw the Rossoneri turn the tables with a spectacular comeback propitiated by Castillejo and, moreover, Rafael Leao.

Milan re-opened it around the one-hour mark as Giroud headed home a spectacular Leao cross from the left-hand side. That seemed to boost the Rossoneri‘s confidence as they came close to equalize with another Giroud header and then with a Leao curl that sailed above the crossbar on 68 minutes. 

The Verona coached changed his striker as Kevin Lasagna replaced Kalinic. Tudor had already added Simeone and Adrien Tameze to his mix. But, on 73 minutes, Milan had their second as Kessié converted a penalty chance. It all started from another Rafael Leao magic, with the Portuguese starlet serving Castillejo in the box with a brilliant back heel pass and Davide Faraoni crashing into the Spaniard to send the Presidente to the spot.

As Zlatan Ibrahimovic set foot on the pitch, replacing Ismael Bennacer, Milan’s comeback was completed two minutes later when poor defender Koray Gunter deflected a Castillejo cross right into the back of his own net with a clumsy clearance attempt.

The game ended with Tatarusanu preserving the Rossoneri‘s hard-gained lead and two shooting attempts from Ibrahimovic that didn’t help him make it to the scoresheet. Still, Zlatan could be happy with helping Milan snatch some unexpected three points while Verona suddenly found themselves with no fuel left in the tank despite a brilliant first half that surely promised more for the courageous Scaligeri.



October 16, 2021 – Serie A 2021-2022 Round 8

SCORERS: 7′ Caprari (V), 24′ Barak (V, pen.), 59′ Giroud (M), 76′ Kessié (M, pen.), 78′ Gunter (V, o.g.)

MILAN (4-2-3-1): Tatarusanu; Calabria, Romagnoli, Tomori, Ballo Touré; Bennacer (78′ Ibrahimovic), Kessié; Saelemaekers (46′ Castillejo), Maldini (46′ st Krunic), Rebic (32′ Rafael Leao); Giroud (82′ Tonali) (Jungdal, Conti, Gabbia, Kalulu, Kjaer, Pellegri) Coach: Pioli
VERONA (3-4-2-1): Montipò; Ceccherini (46′ Sutalo), Gunter, Casale; Faraoni, Ilic, Veloso (60′ Tameze), Lazovic (79′ Cancellieri); Barak, Caprari (60′ Simeone); Kalinic (63′ Lasagna) (Pandur, Berardi, Bessa, Cetin, Hongla, Magnani, Ruegg) Coach: Tudor

REFEREE: Mr. Prontera from Bologna
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Ballo Tourè (M), Ceccherini, Kalinic, Casale, Veloso (V); Added Time: 1st Half: 2′, 2nd Half: 4′