For a long time, Milan’s visit to Genoa was a tired affair, but in the closing stages, events came thick and fast: First Pulisic broke the spell with a stroke of genius, then Giroud became the hero of the evening – as goalkeeper!
Milan’s visit to Genoa was almost a full house – which was also due to the fact that the promoted club and the oldest in Italy was founded 130 years ago to the day. Tactically, coach Alberto Gilardino relied on a strong defence against the Rossoneri, for which he “sacrificed” striker Retegui and brought in Sabelli in midfield compared to the recent 2:2 at Udinese Calcio.
Coach Stefano Pioli gave his attacking players a rest after the draw with BVB in the Champions League: Rafael Leao, Giroud and Pulisic were missing from the starting eleven, as were Pobega and Calabria. New: Florenzi, Adli, Chukwueze, Jovic and Okafor.
The newly assembled offensive team had great problems with the well-adjusted Genoese. Milan was visually superior, but often got bogged down and rarely had clear chances. Nevertheless, there were a few: Genoa’s goalkeeper Martinez had to save against Okafor (3rd) and Reijnders, who had again finished from an offside-suspicious position (19th). Theo shot past on the right (24th).
Speaking of Theo: The French international defender saw yellow before half-time – it was his fifth caution in his seventh league game. The 26-year-old will now miss the upcoming clash against Juventus (22 October, 20.45).
There were not many highlights in the game, the hosts and outsiders were far too destructive – and Milan far too haphazard. Pioli reacted to the poor performance of his team and brought on Rafael Leao and Pulisic at the change of ends. The unconvincing Chukwueze and Okafor remained out, while Jovic, who was hardly involved in his starting debut and received few balls, was allowed to continue.
Pioli changes offensively
Not much changed, however, even with the changes. The game remained complicated for Milan because the promoted team simply offered nothing. The bottom line was that it was a game of patience. After Martinez had saved a good Rafael Leao header (65th), Giroud and Calabria came on for Milan – for Adli and Florenzi (66th).
With Rafael Leao, Pulisic, Giroud and Jovic, everything was on the offensive for the visitors in the last half hour. But it was the promoted team that suddenly had the chances: Maignan first saved strongly against Dragusin (76th) and a little later was very happy when substitute Ekuban headed over the goal after Maignan had misjudged (76th).
In the final phase, the Rossoneri increased the tempo and finally had more chances to score, but the Genoese threw themselves into every shot: Jovic failed twice (79th, 81st), Pulisic once (81st). Because Calabria’s long-range attempt from the second row also went into the third stick (83rd), it smelled like a nil draw.
Pure spectacle in the final phase
But it didn’t come to that as Musah crossed from the right half of the field into the danger zone to his US compatriot Pulisic. Pulisic deftly took the ball with his leg and chest, turned on his own axis and scored on the bottom right (87th). The goal was then checked for a long time by the VAR for a possible handball by the ex-Dortmunders – but in the end it counted.
But that was not enough, because suddenly a spectacle of unparalleled proportions developed in Genoa: In injury time Maignan took enormous risks and fouled Ekuban with his knee outside the penalty area. After a VAR check, referee Marco Piccinini gave him a red card for an emergency stop. Because Milan had already made five substitutions, an outfield player had to go into goal for the remaining minutes.
Giroud put on Maignan’s goalkeeper’s shirt – and was soon to be challenged. First, however, Gudmundsson’s free-kick was deflected against the post (90.+12), before Genoa’s keeper Martinez was also sent off. He had already been cautioned for time play, but then allowed himself a foul when he came forward – and was shown the red card (90.+13.).
Giroud’s big moment came shortly afterwards, when he was lucky to make a crooked fist save from Puscas and then buried the ball under him (90.+14). He also added the final touch when he plucked down a high ball in the box.
Milan thus won narrowly 1-0 to go into the international break as the new Serie A leaders after Inter’s previous draw. The action resumes for both clubs on Sunday 22 October, with Genoa travelling to Bergamo for a 6pm clash with Atalanta, while Milan face record holders Juventus.