Thursday, January 6, 2022 at 8:31 PM• Dominic Mostert • Last update: 22:39

AC Milan have three points left from the first game of the new calendar year. The number two in Serie A won 3-1 against AS Roma on Thursday evening and therefore continues to follow Internazionale: the difference is one point, although the leader has a duel due. Roma remains in seventh place. The visitors ended the game with nine men, because Rick Karsdorp and Gianluca Mancini received a red card.

AC Milan missed a laundry list of players due to injuries, corona infections and participation in the African Cup. However, trainer Stefano Pioli could again have Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was still missing in the last game of 2021 against Empoli (2-4 win) due to knee problems. However, the Swede started on the bench. Despite the personnel problems, Milan got off to a flying start. Within seventeen minutes, the home team was already leading 2-0. The first goal came from a penalty, which followed a handball by Tammy Abraham. The attacker grazed the ball with his arm, trying to block a hard bang from Theo Hernández.

Referee Daniele Chiffi was advised by his video referee to watch the footage of the handball. He found that Abraham indeed deflected the ball and made a move towards the ball, giving Milan a penalty. Olivier Giroud waited for a move from keeper Rui Patrício and placed the ball out of reach in the left corner. Shortly afterwards, Giroud also played an important role in the 2-0. The striker reacted alertly to a bad cross pass from Roger Ibañez to Chris Smalling and took the ball over. He then hit the post, but in the rebound Junior Messias was able to pick out the left corner.

Roma then came into the game better. Five minutes before the break, Abraham deflected a shot from Nicolò Zaniolo with the head, but Mike Maignan narrowly saved. Moments later, Abraham managed to divert a shot successfully. After a corner deflected, the ball went to Lorenzo Pellegrini, whose shot was touched by Abraham. As a result, Maignan had no chance: 2-1. Tempers ran high for the remainder of the first half as a Milan staffer was sent to the stands for criticism of the lead and Zaniolo unsuccessfully asked for a penalty after contacting Sandro Tonali. After the break, Brahim Díaz was close to 3-1 for Milan, but his powder exploded on the crossbar. On the other side, Maignan saved a long shot from Abraham.

The assignment for Roma was made even more difficult by a red card from Karsdorp: the right back pulled the emergency brake with a foul on Hernández and received his second yellow print. From the ensuing free kick, Alessandro Florenzi turned the ball against the crossing. Roma had to take risks in the search for the equalizer, but still got the lid on the nose. Substitute Ibrahimovic extended a long ball with his chest and served Rafael Leão, who had a free passage towards the penalty area due to the numerical superiority and decided the game in Milan’s favor. The poison cup was not yet empty. Leão sprinted into the penalty area again in stoppage time and was torpedoed by Mancini, who was shown a red card. However, Patrício knocked Ibrahimovic’s penalty out of the corner.