AC Milan doomed Hellas Verona to Serie B with an easy 4-1 victory at the Stadio San Siro on Saturday, whilst getting their own Europa League hopes back on track in the process.
Hakan Calhaoglu’s deflected strike was followed up by a smart Patrick Cutrone finish to give the Rossoneri a dominant lead at half-time. A rare Ignazio Abate goal early in the second half extinguished any lingering hopes Verona had of maintaining their top flight status.
Despite a stunning late Seung-Woo Lee volley, Verona showed no signs of threatening a first ever Serie A win over Milan at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, and saw their return to Serie A cut short after a single season. Fabio Borini’s late strike restored the Diavolo’s three goal advantage as Milan secured an easy victory.
Milan started brightly, with Leonardo Bonucci forcing an early corner. Moments later, the Rossoneri looked to be in as Suso swung in a teasing cross for Cutrone to head goalward, but Marco Silvestri was on hand to pull off a fine save.
The early pressure paid off as Milan took the lead with barely 10 minutes on the clock, with a hint of good fortune. Suso ran on to a smart Giacomo Bonaventura through ball to cut back for Calhanoglu, and the Turkish international’s powerful low drive deflected off Thomas Heurtaux and into the back of the net.
— SempreMilan (@SempreMilanCom) May 5, 2018
Calhanoglu was proving to be a constant menace, and after driving forward from midfield, unleashed a wicked low effort to force Silvestri into another smart save.
Milan were dominating and pushing forward with purpose. Bonaventura pinched the ball from Romulo on the halfway line a carried the ball towards the penalty area and releasing Cutrone. The teenager was unable to get his shot away under pressure from Antonio Caracciolo.
The duo linked up moments later to devastating effect however. A smart turn allowed Bonaventura to create space and play into Cutrone’s feet in the box, and with one touch to escape Heurtaux, the forward fired into the bottom corner.
Cutrone’s goal pic.twitter.com/3UTORNT3gj
— #FreeLocatelli (@semo33) May 5, 2018
The hosts were cranking up pressure, and it was Manuel Locatelli’s turn to test Silvestri. The midfielder latched on to Suso’s cutback to fire a venomous effort on goal, but the former Leeds United goalkeeper tipped over the bar.
Verona offered little threat at the other end, and did not muster a single meaningful shot in the first half.
Milan picked up where they left off almost immediately after the restart, as Abate netted for the first time since December 2015. The full-back controlled Suso’s low pass with his left foot before using the outside of his right boot to fire beyond Silvestri.
Verona finally broke forward with almost an hour gone, as Ryder Matos took advantage of a sloppy Bonucci touch to burst forward and fire from the edge of the box. The shot appeared to strike Alessio Romagnoli’s arm, but Gialloblu protests were waved away.
Silvestri was preventing the clash from turning into a rout, and produced a magnificent stop to deny Locatelli. The Rossoneri midfielder chested the ball down and saw a long range effort take a huge deflection off Heurtaux’s chest and trickled towards the far post. Having already committed, Silvestri changed direction and leapt across to palm the ball around the post.
Having offered little to no threat for 70 minutes, Verona came within inches of pulling a goal back. Matos was hauled down on the left side of the box by Matteo Musacchio, allowing Romulo to line up a dangerous freekick. The Brazilian’s venomous effort fizzed past Gianluigi Donnarumma and cannoned off the crossbar before bouncing clear.
The visitors’ attacks came too few and far between, although substitute Rolando Aarons showed great pace to skip into the box and bear down on goal. A well-timed Abate sliding tackle stopped him in his tracks however.
Verona struck back with just five minutes remaining, and it was an extraordinary strike. Franck Kessie’s headed clearance from a corner fell into the path of Lee, and the South Korean unleashed an incredible volley that whistled beyond Donnarumma and into the back of the net.
— FrSerieA Goals (@FrSerieAGoals) May 5, 2018
Milan struck back immediately however, as Borini latched on to Bonaventura’s cross to shrug off Aarons and fire into the bottom corner.
— SempreMilan (@SempreMilanCom) May 5, 2018
Ultimately, Verona were unable to stage the most incredible of comebacks and fell to defeat without a whimper, ending their season-long stay in Serie A.
Milan, meanwhile, move up to sixth for the time being, ahead of a crucial visit to seventh-place Atalanta next weekend.