STADIO RENATO DALL’ARA (Bologna) – Despite playing the majority of the first half against ten men and most of the second half against nine, AC Milan were beyond fortunate to leave Emilia-Romagna with a 4-2 win over Bologna on Saturday evening.
Rafael Leao and Davide Calabria scored either side of Adama Soumaoro’s first-half red card to set the Rossoneri on their way to what looked as though would be a straightforward Serie A win; it proved to be anything but. The Rossoblu pulled one back when Zlatan Ibrahimovic turned a Musa Barrow corner into his own net, and the Gambian himself then levelled before Roberto Soriano followed Soumaoro in being dismissed for a nasty challenge on Fode Ballo Toure.
Even with a two-man advantage, Milan struggled to break Bologna down and could have conceded more. But Player of the Match Ismael Bennacer flattened the hosts with a late volley before Ibrahimovic killed things off with his first goal as a 40-year-old and sealed the points with a curling effort in stoppage time.
Milan had no width, Pioli had no ideas
It’s not a rare sight to see a side struggle with a numerical advantage, but Milan looked more than comfortable for the most part when they were up against ten.
Seven chaotic minutes to start the second half saw that change though, and Bologna suddenly found themselves back on terms and looking the more likely of the two sides to go on and score a third. That should have changed when Soriano was sent off for almost crunching Ballo Toure’s ankle, but Bologna resisted for almost half an hour before Bennacer struck.
Milan coach Stefano Pioli didn’t help things though. He was quick to throw Olivier Giroud on to accompany Ibrahimovic and Leao in attack, but that just led to congestion in the Bologna area as they had already crowded their box in an attempt to protect a cagey Lukasz Skorupski. Althoug Ibrahimovic had been dropping into midfield and wide areas in search of the ball, he then regularly offloaded and looked to arrive in the area, only leading to overcrowding and aiding Bologna’s defensive efforts.
They resorted to crosses that found nobody, and the three forwards were consistently getting in the way of one another.
In the end, it took a moment of real quality from Bennacer to win it, and Milan will return to Lombardia knowing that they got away with one on Saturday, and the humiliation of losing a two-goal lead to ten men could have been a whole lot worse.
Brave Bologna battled until the end
Sinisa Mihajlovic can be nothing but proud of his players’ efforts on the night, and those in attendance made their appreciation clear.
Having conceded the third goal so late on, it would have been normal for the Dall’Ara to deflate after emotions had been riding so high for the best part of an hour previously. Instead, the stadium rose to applaud their players, recognising how much they had given for the cause.
The reaction on the final whistle was much the same, once they had made their disapproval of referee Paolo Valeri clear.