Milan’s chase to the top positions came to a halt in Udine yesterday, as the Rossoneri were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw by Massimo Oddo’s troops. An early masterpiece goal by Suso was not enough for Gennaro Gattuso to collect a fourth win in a row. Udinese took advantage of Davide Calabria’s expulsion to increase the pressure, and reached a well-deserved equaliser when a shot by Kevin Lasagna was deflected by Leonardo Bonucci, and then Gianluigi Donnarumma into their own goal.
Gattuso gave a new chance to Portuguese striker André Silva, but the 22-year-old performed once again below average, and gloomily left the pitch for Nikola Kalinic after 70 minutes. On the other hand, Suso confirmed one more time to be the added value of this Milan, delivering his sixth seasonal goal to break the balance after just nine minutes.
The Spanish winger put his side ahead, inventing literally out of nowhere a powerful drive shot from 25 meters, which hit the crossbar and then rebound into Albano Bizzarri’s net. That was the early turning point of a match played with intensity by both sides, but which offered few more scoring chances in the first half.
Kevin Lasagna, Udinese’s lone forward, kept the Rossoneri in apprehension despite being scarcely served by his supporting cast, well contained by Milan’s high pressing. Bianconeri’s Number 15 produced two dangerous headers that narrowly missed the target, and forced Gigio Donnarumma to concede a corner kick with a long-range shot originating from a fast counterstrike.
The tide of the game turned after one hour of play, when Davide Calabria, who had already received a yellow card in the first half for a tackle on Jakub Jankto, tripped the Czech midfielder again to prevent a counterattack. Referee Gianluca Manganiello’s interpretation was strict, and earned Calabria a second booking plus an early shower.
Udinese took courage and, just two minutes later, missed a clear chance to make it even when a header in the box by Jankto bounced into Antonin Barak, and ended past the end line. At the 74’ minute, a point-blank overhead shot by substitute Maxi Lopez tested Donnarumma’s great reflexes – a prelude to what was going to happen only one minute later.
Barak penetrated a panting Rossoneri defense to serve Kevin Lasagna a vertical pass: His cross from the right side found an unfortunate double deflection by Bonucci and Donnarumma, and set the Dacia Arena supporters on fire for Udinese’s 1-1.
Gennaro Gattuso saw the worst coming and covered up, sending in more defensive winger Fabio Borini for Hakan Calhanonglu. Milan let the match slide to an end despite a final attempt by Kalinic, whose header on a cross by Frank Kessié at 90’ flew over the woodwork. The Bianconeri kept pushing, but when Manganiello blew the final whistle they could still be quite happy at tying a match that had quickly turned into an uphill struggle.
February 4, 2018 – Serie A 2017-18 Round 23
SCORERS: 9’ Suso (M); 76’ G. Donnarumma (M, o.g.)
|UDINESE (3-4-2-1): Bizzarri; Nuytinck, Danilo, Zampano; Larsen, Barak, Behrami (73′ Balic), Pezzella (64′ Widmer); Jankto, De Paul (67′ Maxi Lopez); Lasagna (Scuffet, Borsellini, Angella, Fofana, Pontisso, Haldfredsson, Perica) Coach: Oddo|
|MILAN (4-3-3): G. Donnarumma; Abate, Bonucci, Romagnoli, Calabria; Kessie, Biglia, Bonaventura (71′ Antonelli); Suso, André Silva (72′ Kalinic), Calhanoglu (78′ Borini) (A. Donnarumma, Guarnone, Zapata, Musacchio, Bellanova, Montolivo, Mauri, Locatelli, Cutrone) Coach: Gattuso|
REFEREE: Mr. Manganiello from Pinerolo
NOTES: Yellow cards: Larsen, Danilo (U); Red card: Calabria (M)