‘Really hurts’ as Monza stun Milan in Serie A rollercoaster

AC Milan’s Nigerian midfielder #21 Samuel Chukwueze (L) fights for the ball with Monzaís Italian defender #44 Andrea Carboni during the Italian Serie A football match between AC Monza and AC Milan at the Brianteo stadium in Monza, on February 18, 2024. AFP

AC Milan squandered the opportunity to dislodge Juventus from second place in Serie A on Sunday when they lost 4-2 in a rollercoaster clash at Monza.

The result left Milan in third place with 52 points, two behind Juve and 11 back from league leaders and bitter rivals Inter.

Matteo Pessina, with a penalty on the stroke of half-time after a rash tackle by Malick Thiaw, and a Dany Mota strike gave mid-table Monza a 2-0 lead at the interval.

Monza appeared to be cruising to victory when Milan were reduced to 10 men in the 54th minute after Luka Jovic was red-carded for hitting an opponent.

Milan coach Stefano Pioli was forced to summon heavyweights Rafael Leao, Christian Pulisic and Olivier Giroud from the bench and the changes reaped an immediate dividend.

Giroud was set-up by Pulisic to score his 12th goal of the season just after the hour with Pulisic himself making it 2-2 in the 88th minute.

However, young French star Warren Bondo gave Monza the advantage again with a superb 20-metre drive in the 90th minute before Lorenzo Colombo added a fourth goal from another penalty in injury time.

“It’s a defeat that really hurts, the night could not have gone any worse,” said Pioli.

Lazio followed their victory over Bayern Munich in the Champions League by throwing away an early lead to lose 2-1 at home to Bologna.

Lazio seemed to be building on their momentum when Gustav Isaksen gave them an 18th minute lead.

Bologna fought back with Morocco international Oussama El Azzouzi, making his first start since returning from the Africa Cup of Nations, levelling in the 39th minute.

Dutchman Joshua Zirkzee earned the visitors victory with his eighth goal of the season in the 78th minute.

Bologna stay fifth but their fourth consecutive victory lifted them level on points with Atalanta who have a game in hand.

“It was an important test for us and we responded by producing our football for 90 minutes, but it’s still too early to think about qualifying for the Champions League,” said Bologna coach Thiago Motta.

Roma occupy sixth place on 41 points, five behind Bologna after a 3-0 win at Frosinone.

Since taking over from Jose Mourinho as coach, Daniele De Rossi has reinvigorated Roma with a haul of 12 points out of a possible fifteen.

On Saturday, Juventus could only draw 2-2 at relegation-threatened Verona and slipped nine points behind leaders Inter who beat Salernitana 4-0 on Friday.

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