Notes On Three Points Snatched Despite An Ever Growing Injury Crisis

Empoli 1-3 Milan
Bajrami 90’+2 ~ Rebic 79’ Ballo-Toure 90’+4 Leao 90’+7

It was an injury enforced changed team with Tatarusanu in goal, Ballo-Toure at left back and a late Messias knock forcing the Brazilian out. Bennacer did start alongside Tonali while there was some talk of Pobega starting.

An early half chance was diverted just wide by Giroud. Leao had a better chance in the 9th minute but shot weaker than he should have and the ball was easily kept out. The start was not looking promising for the hosts.

Empoli tested Tatarusanu on the quarter of hour and the Romanian didn’t look the most secure with the cross and Liam Henderson shot. Minutes later Leao won the ball an d rushed the box and then sent the ball low which Saelemaekers eventually missed poorly. Moments later the Belgian had a better shot blocked by Guglielmo Vicario in the Empoli goal.

Further injuries were the story of the half. First Saelemaekers then Calabria had to come off replaced by Krunic and Kalulu. Headaches into the half time break for all of Milan’s management, players and fans.

A more or less handicapped team started the second half. The hosts threatened sporadically while Milan didn’t quite have a finished product when attacking the Empoli box. One of these attacks led to a free kick just outside of the box, Giroud’s attempt hit the cross bar and went out. Then Sam Lammers headed just wide following a partial counter by the hosts.

A Tonali free kick was almost diverted in by Sebastiano Luperto but Vicario’s reflexes saved his team. The final 20 saw a triple change with Rebic, Diaz and Dest coming on for Giroud, De Ketelaere and Kjaer. The latter was visibly struggling. This was followed with a great chance for the hosts. Nedim Bajrami took away the ball and almost beat Tatarusanu and the ensuing Milan counter had Diaz almost doing the same on the other side of the pitch.

A moment of opportunism finally arrived. A Tonali throw in found Leao deep in the Empoli zone, in what would normally be an offside position, the Portuguese received the ball and found Rebic. The Croatian found the next for the lead. Late in the game Diaz came close with a freekick from Milan’s left side and then Bajrami shot high when he could have done much better. The aforementioned Albaniaj international did get his goal. A free kick given away was Bajrami’s to take and he shot in the corner for the tie.

With the game headed for a disappointing tie things changed with another instance of opportunism. Milan attacked right after the Empoli goal kick off and and the ball fell at Ballo-Toure’s feet. The left back had advanced quickly and beat the Empoli goalkeeper with a simple touch. With the hosts fully advanced searching for another goal Rebic found Leao who ran and chipped the ball over the goalkeeper for unlikely 3-1 win.