AC Milan’s hopes of reaching the top six for the first time this season were dashed by a brilliant Hellas Verona, who held the Rossoneri to a 1-1 draw at the Stadio San Siro on Sunday afternoon.
Davide Faraoni put the visitors ahead early on, but Hakan Calhanoglu equalised for the Rossoneri, who struggled over the 90 minutes to create many goalscoring opportunities without talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
As a result, Milan remain locked with Parma and Cagliari on 32 points, with the three sides sitting in joint sixth in the Serie A table.
Verona looked the more confident side in the opening minutes, as Ivan Juric’s choice to deploy Valerio Verre as a false 9 seemed to give his side better midfield control.
After 13 minutes the Gialloblu combined well down the left flank, allowing Mattia Zaccagni to deliver a precise cross that Davide Faraoni slotted home at the second post to put the visitors ahead.
The Mastini continued to look threatening on the break after taking the lead, as well as showing their trademark defensive solidity which has made them one of the best defences in the league so far.
However, the hosts were lucky to find the equaliser seconds before the half-hour mark, when an Hakan Calhanoglu’s freekick was deflected into the goal by Verre.
The Rossoneri could have completed a comeback in the space of a few minutes but Ante Rebic wasted a lethal counter-attack led by Rafael Leao – the Croat was put through on goal by Samuel Castillejo but after trying to round Marco Silvestri he couldn’t find the room to fire home from a tight angle.
Pioli’s men were more lively in the closing minutes of the first half, although their pressure didn’t pay off.
After the interval, Verona were once again more organised than their opponents and they went close to scoring a second as Matteo Pessina was found unmarked in the box by a nice Darko Lazovic’s cross, but his header hit the post.
Juric’s side continued their stubborn pursuit of the lead but Zaccagni’s powerful left-footed attempt slammed against the upright once again.
The match looked set to turn on its head a few minutes later, when Verona’s Sofyan Amrabat received a red card for a tough challenge on Castillejo, with the referee going to VAR to confirm the dismissal.
However, despite being a man down the visitors didn’t concede any cut-clear chances to the Rossoneri until injury time, when Theo Hernandez forced a save from Silvestri, and Castillejo collected the rebound only to be denied by the post.