After defeat in the derby on Sunday, AC Milan followed that up with a 2-1 loss to Real Betis in the Europa League on Thursday night, which puts the Spanish side top of Group F.
A goalkeeping error from Pepe Reina allowed Toni Sanabria to tap the ball home just half an hour in, then Giovani Lo Celso bagged the second, curling the ball into the top corner from 20 yards out. Patrick Cutrone pulled one back with seven minutes left but it was all too late for the home side who had Samuel Castillejo sent off at the death.
That result ends Milan’s perfect record in the competition this season, though more worryingly for Gennaro Gattuso, the Rossoneri didn’t have a shot on target until the 68th minute.
Chances were few and far between in the opening stages as both teams traded midfield blows. Antonio Barragan tried his luck from a header, while Castillejo tried to find Gonzalo Higuain in the penalty area but his long ball was too long.
Betis took the lead on the half hour via a counter attack as Lo Celso got down the left, bundled his way past Cristian Zapata, before playing a low cross for Sanabria who got in front of both Alessio Romagnoli and Pepe Reina to poke home.
Seconds later, it could have been two as Reina parried a shot from Sergio Leon into the path of Sanabria, but the initial cross from Junior Firpo saw Leon in an offside position.
From there Betis grew in confidence, and a wonderful cross from Lo Celso found Sanabria unmarked at the back post, but he side-footed into the stands from close range, when it looked easier to score.
Another long ball out foxed the Milan defence and Reina rushed out of his box and blocked an attempted lob from Lo Celso, with the Betis players demanding a red card but referee Bas Nijhuis waved away the protests.
Then just before the break, Higuain was played in on goal but a brilliant recovery by Aissa Mandi unsettled the Argentine enough, that Pau Lopez was able to make the save at the near post.
Five minutes into the second half Betis had had two excellent chances and should have extended their lead. First, Lo Celso blasted over the crossbar, then Junior flashed a cross a fraction too high, with the goal gaping.
Not that it mattered as Lo Celso picked up the ball on the edge of the penalty area and curled the ball into Reina’s top right corner.
Milan went close to pulling a goal back as Castillejo rifled a shot from distance of the post. But the Rossoneri did have the ball in the net as Cutrone tapped in a Castillejo cross.
An expertly timed tackle on Castillejo, who was in on goal, from Marc Bartra had the Milan players and fans screaming for a penalty, but again the referee waved play on.
To add more misery onto Milan’s evening, Castillejo was given a straight red card in the final minute for a foul on Lo Celso.
DOMINATED AT HOME
While the statistics might say the game was fairly even. Possession almost 50-50, two shots on target to three etc. The reality was a lot worse for Milan as Betis came to an almost empty San Siro and made Gattuso’s men look rank amateur, particularly in the first half. Something of a second string was not match for the Spaniards, who dominated and in reality should have had another couple of goals. Thus, there is much for Gattuso to ponder, should he be allowed to by the Milan hierarchy.
FRUSTRATIONS BOILING OVER
Milan left it late to make a comeback, and were in the ascendancy for the final 15 minutes though it took 83 for Cutrone to find the net. That lead to Castillejo getting a needless red card, after being one of the few shining lights in the game for Milan, then at the final whistle, Gattuso, Donnarumma and a host of Rossoneri players and staff surrounded the referee. Clearly there is work to do, but in reality Milan need to up their performance from the outset if they are to turn things around.