STADIO LUIGI FERRARIS (Genoa) – Pepe Reina went from zero to hero as a last minute penalty save from the goalkeeper meant AC Milan were able to beat Genoa 2-1 on Saturday evening to alleviate some of the pressure on coach Marco Giampaolo.
With the situation at the Rossoneri already tense given they had won just two matches all season, Lasse Schone shocked Milan with a thunderous freekick just before the break, but quick thinking from Theo Hernandez and Lucas Paqueta put the defender in on goal to then equalise, 51 minutes in.
The game was turned on it’s head when Davide Biraschi handballed with Rafael Leao almost in on goal, and following consolation with VAR, referee Maurizio Mariani pointed to the spot, before handing the defender a red card.
Franck Kessie slotted home the spot kick, but Davide Calabria was sent off for the Rossoneri with just 11 minutes left.
Then, with full time approaching, Reina gave away a penalty, but thankfully for Milan fans he then denied Schone to guarantee all three points.
It was the home side who got out the blocks first, as a long ball forward by Domenico Criscito which was intended for Christian Kouame, was overhit and ran into the path of Lukas Lerager who hit his shot straight at Reina.
Theo was fouled on the edge of the Genoa box, and Suso stepped up, but his curling freekick was punched out by Andrei Radu.
As the half wore on, it was Genoa who looked the more likely, with wing-backs Paolo Ghiglione and Marko Pajac both stinging the hands of Reina.
The deadlock was broken 41 minutes in when Schone smashed a freekick towards goal and with a deflection off Kessie, the ball slipped through Reina’s arms.
It could have been two just moments later when Cristian Romero headed a corner inches over the crossbar.
Genoa substitute Riccardo Saponara was sent off from the bench for his protests, when Andrea Pinamonti was down with an apparent head injury, and referee Mariani didn’t stop play.
In somewhat bizarre fashion Milan equalised, when substitute Lucas Paqueta took a quick freekick and fed the onrushing Theo who blasted the ball between the near post and goalkeeper Radu.
Another half time sub, Rafael Leao got into the area and, from a similar position, smashed straight at Radu.
The game turned on it’s head when referee Mariani went to VAR for a potential handball from Biraschi in preventing a Leao chance, and after review he pointed to the spot and sent the defender off as he had prevented a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Kessie stepped up and rolled the ball down he middle of Radu’s goal to put his side in the lead.
Despite being a man and goal down, Genoa didn’t give up and almost got themselves level when Andrea Favilli swung a ball in for Kouame, who was unmarked, but it was just out of his reach.
Calabria was handed a second yellow card with just less than 15 minutes left to play for a foul on Kouame.
That was the lift Genoa needed and after Goran Pandev put Kouame in on goal, the Ivorian was brought down by Reina and a penalty was awarded to the home side. But the Spanish goalkeeper was equal to Schone’s effort much to the delight of his teammates.