The idea of getting the fourth victory in a row is really tempting for AC Milan, which is now aiming at the third place in the Serie A ranking, enough to get a ticket for the 2016-17 Champions League: something Milan supporters did not even dare to say out loud until a month ago it is now a concrete possibility. San Siro is coming back to be the Milan homeland, after the win against Sassuolo and Chievo.
The return of Niang as a regular player is the news of the day for the “rossoneri”: the french is joining Bacca and Cerci to form the attacking front, while Mexes is at the center of the defense together with Romagnoli, De Sciglio on the right and Antonelli on the left. The midfield is presided by captain Montolivo, Poli and Kukca.
As for Atalanta, the attacking trio is formed by Pinilla, Moralez and Gomez: three fast players Milan defenders will have to watch from. Paletta is the “ex” of the match.
Atalanta presses and doesn’t not concede anything. Bacca is moving all over the offensive front, but with little or no success at all..
at the 21st, a great action by Bacca, two feints in a row and then a shot, a defender stops the ball, then Niang tries a heel, nothing Atalanta supporters has to worry about.
A free kick on the left (with no result) is the Atalanta's contribution to the show in the next ten minutes: surely, it is not a fine match, if not for some Niang’s initiatives.
And that’s the end of the first half. So far, it has been a confused and uneven match: too much errors, too few shoots (actually, just one, not even dangerous).
The second half begins with Calabria in place of De Sciglio.
A bad foul by Pinilla on Niang gets him a yellow card and another free kick for Milan. Bacca almost scores, but he is in offside. At least something happened.
Another good action by Milan, Poli passes to Niang, the shoot is too weak. From now on, then Atalanta become bolder, while Milan starts recoiling dangerously.
A dubious episode in Milan box (Calabria on Pinilla) sends some shivers on Milan supporters, but referee decides for a yellow card for Pinilla.
Now, Milan is simply not playing, and a dangerous counter attack by Atalanta shows that something has to be done, as soon as possible. Right now, even making two passes in a row would be an improvement.
At 60th, a miracle by Donnarumma on Cigarini’s header, then another great save on Maxi Moralez.
In the meantime, Kucka is replaced by Luiz Adrian: a sign that Mihajlovic wants to win the match, even if at the moment it is more likely to lose it.
Now, Atalanta seems in total control of the match: it has the third chance to score with Grassi, Donnarumma is superb, again.
At the 73rd, Honda is in for Niang, who is patently too tired to continue. Actually, he had been since the beginning of the second half. Milan is decidedly too slow, while Atalanta players do feel they can try to win the whole pot. They always come first on the ball.
At the 80th (!), finally, a chance for Milan: on a corner, Luiz Adriano’s header is stopped just before the line by Cigarini. Just an episode or a change of tide? This is the only shot by Milan in the second half, the second in the whole match: the match’s eve hopes now appear to be ludicrous.
In the 4-minutes of extra time, a header by Antonelli is over the bar. Then while Atalanta continues to try to strike the death blow, it comes the best action by Milan. Actually, the only action worth the name. Rather incredibly, it is a counter attack, concluded by Cerci shooting on the side after a wonderful coast-to-coast by the three attackers.
Too few, too late.
The match is over, it is a tie, and the team should even give thanks for a point frankly undeserved.
While leaving San Siro, among a crowd of disappointed fans, many are trying to console themselves by considering the fact that, just few weeks ago, a match like this would have been a loss. Better to get a little than nothing at all, the old wise would say. Obviously, it would a wise who does not mind winning something. #Football