Verona Scare Milan, Ibrahimovic Late Header Saves the Day

Milan and Verona shared the spoils at the San Siro in the last match of Serie A Round 7 at the end of game that offered plenty of emotions and drama. The Rossoneri found themselves trailing by two goals after 20 minutes, but managed to come back thanks to a late header from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and despite a missed penalty on the part of their giant striker.

Stefano Pioli’s side had the chance to increase their lead in the Serie A table but couldn’t come up with more than one point. There were thus no major changes in the table as Milan, Sassuolo, Inter, and Juventus all tied – with only Roma and Napoli taking advantage of the multiple stalemates.

The Rossoneri showed they have still not fully recovered from their shocking loss to Lille last Thursday but had the merit of bouncing back from a shocking start, whereas Verona could still celebrate for grabbing a key point and maintaining a comfortable 8th spot in the table.

Milan’s problem started even before the game itself: Alessio Romagnoli got injured during the warm-up and had to be replaced at the last moment by Matteo Gabbia. It looked like a bad omen for Stefano Pioli who – except for the forced change – confirmed the same starting XI that struggled in Udine one week ago.

For Verona, Ivan Juric came up with a couple of surprises as he deployed from the start Pawel Dawidowicz and Giangiacomo Magnani. Former Milan man Nikola Kalinic led the attack, supported by Mattia Zaccagni and Antonin Barak.

It was a dazzling start for Verona: Barak picked up where he’d left off on Monday – when he scored a brace to Benevento – pouncing on the ball when the crossbar pushed back Federico Ceccherini’s header from a corner kick and opened the scoring for the Scaligeri. Milan saw the ghosts of Lille again after just six minutes.

 Antonin Barak is on fire! After bagging a brace on Monday, the Czech midfielder opened the scoring tonight as well as he put Verona ahead of Milan after just six minutes

The ghosts grew stronger as not even luck seemed to be on the Rossoneri‘s side. On 20 minutes, a Barak free kick found Mattia Zaccagni in the middle of the box, and the 25-year-old’s shot was fatally deflected by Davide Calabria into his own goal.

Milan’s reaction saw Rafael Leao progressing on the left side and testing Marco Silvestri with a right-foot effort but Verona’s shot-stopper confirmed his great shape as he denied the Portuguese into corner.

Three minutes later, however, Milan put themselves back into the game thanks to Frank Kessié. Hakan Calhanoglu served Alex Saelemaekers along the right flank and the Belgian whipped one of his notorious crosses into the box, where Kessié could stretch his foot and deflect the ball towards the Gialloblu‘s goal – with Giangiacomo Magnani pushing it into his own net.

Pioli’s side saw the chance to re-balance the game and kept pushing. Saelemaekers set Theo Hernandez free in the box but Silvestri’s coverage on the Frenchman’s point-blank range effort was extraordinary. Milan went to the break one goal down and with a nervous Zlatan Ibrahimovic barely touching the ball during the first period.

After the restart, Ante Rebic made his entrance to the pitch, replacing Alex Saelemaekers. But it was Verona to make themselves dangerous again. Five minutes into the second half, Mattia Zaccagni got rid of Davide Calabria and served Federico Dimarco in the box but the 22-year-old’s conclusion could have been better.

After Hakan Calanhoglu saw a winning tap-in disallowed on grounds of offside, Milan came close to draw level as Theo Hernandez engaged in another one-on-one duel with Marco Silvestri but Verona’s goalkeeper ended out as the winner once again.

Just one minute later, Zlatan Ibrahimovic confirmed he was not in one of his night as he dreadfully sent a penalty kick into the stands of the San Siro – courtesy of Matteo Lovato naively pushing Frank Kessié down in the box. But Ibra can be dangerous even in a bad night and, in the 75th minute, he headed the ball twice towards Verona’s goal finding opposition from the crossbar first, and from Silvestri on his second attempt.

With one minute to go, the Rossoneri found the back of the net as Davide Calabria whipped the ball into the goal from an Ibrahimovic’s service but the VAR review highlighted Zlatan’s handball in the process.

The Swede however hit the target – this time for good – from another header, making the best out of a Brahim Diaz cross from the right. That was the end of it. It was an absolute thriller at the San Siro and a great way to cap a Serie A Round that had offered less emotion and less goals than average so far.



November 8, 2020 – Serie A 2020-2021 Round 7

SCORERS: 6′ Barak (V), 20′ Zaccagni (V), 26′ Magnani (V, o.g.), 92′ Ibrahimovic (M)

MILAN (4-2-3-1): G. Donnarumma; Calabria, Kjaer, Gabbia, Hernandez; Bennacer, Kessié; Saelemaekers (46′ Rebic), Calhanoglu (86′ Hauge), Rafael Leao (78′ Brahim Diaz); Ibrahimovic (Tatarusanu, A. Donnarumma, Conti, Duarte, Diogo Dalot, Tonali, Castillejo, Krunic) Coach: Pioli
VERONA (3-4-2-1): Silvestri; Lovato, Magnani (72′ Cetin), Ceccherini; Lazovic, Dawidowicz (62′ Tameze), Ilic (68′ Udogie), Dimarco; Barak, Zaccagni, Kalinic (62′ Colley) (Pandur, Borghetto, Empereur, Amione, Terracciano, Di Carmine, Cancellieri, Salcedo) Coach: Juric

REFEREE: Mr. Guida from Pompei
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Bennacer, Juric, Ceccherini, Lovato, Tameze (V); Extra Time: 1st Half 0′, 2nd Half 6′