Verona vs Milan 1-3: Birthday Boy Tonali Chatters Bentegodi Curse

Following Inter’s come-from-behind win over Empoli on Friday, Milan took the field at the Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi with two objectives in mind; Breaking the old Verona curse and restoring the Serie A lead. The Gialloblu had famously sabotaged the Rossoneri’s title hopes on two occasions in the past, but it was third’ time a charm for the Lombardi club who earned an invaluable comeback victory.

As usual, Igor Tudor unleashed the devastating attacking trio of Giovanni Simeone, Antonin Barak and Gianluca Caprari in his favorite 3-4-2-1 formation. Ivan Ilic and Adrien Tamèze took the double pivot roles, while Davide Faraoni and Darko Lazovic acted as the wingbacks.

On the opposite corner, Stefano Pioli maintained a 4-2-3-1 formation spearheaded by Olivier Giroud who was supported by Alexis Saelemaekers, Rade Krunic and Rafael Leao. Franck Kessié started alongside Sandro Tonali in the middle of the park. As always, Mike Maignan was the man between the posts for Milan, with Davide Calabria, Pierre Kalulu, Fikayo Tomori and Theo Hernandez in front of him.

After testing the waters for the first 12 minutes or so, Milan had the first real chance of the match when Saelemakers’ cross from the right found Krunic in the Verona box, but the Bosnian’s header was tipped over the woodwork by Lorenzo Montipò.

Nevertheless the visitors’ onslaught had just begun, and Tonali found the back of the net on his 22nd birthday after wrestling off Ilicic, but the goal was disallowed by VAR due to a marginal offside position. The birthday boy then found Calabria with a breathtaking flick, but the right-back’s shot couldn’t beat Montipò.

At the 22nd minute, the hosts replied with an opportunity of their own. Faraoni fed Caprari with a sublime ball inside the penalty box. The number 10 took the shot with his first touch, but the ball whistled past the post.

The Gialloblu threatened again at the 34th minute. Tamèze stole the ball from Krunic in the middle of the pitch, allowing Barak to make the run towards the Milan box before picking up Simeone with a smart pass, but El Cholito’s shot hit the side-netting.

After their two warnings, Verona finally delivered on their threat, breaking the deadlock with a formidable play. Caprari picked up Lazovic’s run on the left, and the Serbian found his fellow wingback Faraoni with a pinpoint cross, and the latter made no mistake as he nodded the ball home from close range.

But seconds before the halftime whistle, the Diavolo found the equalizer. Tomori picked up a loose ball in the middle and immediately spotted Leao on the left flank. The Portuguese dribbled past Nicolò Casale and into the box before sending a pass towards the mouth of the goal. Tonali only had to put his foot in front of it to grab himself a well-deserved goal.

After the break, Milan picked up from where they had left, pouncing on a weak corner kick delivery from Verona to launch a counter attack that resulted in a second goal. Saelemaekers’ pass unleashed Leao on the left. In a carbon copy of the first goal, the former Lille man gifted Tonali a wonderful ball, allowing him score from the easiest of tap-ins.

The second half turned out to be a less entertaining affair for the large part with the Rossoneri happy to safely sail towards the win.

Nevertheless, Alessandro Florenzi still managed to score the third for Pioli’s men just minutes after his introduction. The former Roma captain played a splendid give-and-go with Junior Messias before storming into the box and unleashing an unstoppable low drive towards the far corner.

Therefore, Milan succeeded in chattering the old Bentegodi curse with a 3-1 victory, earning three incredibly precious points and restoring their lead ahead of the final two rounds.