Milan 3-1 Roma: Rossoneri reassert title credentials against Mourinho's nine men

By Sports Desk January 06, 2022

Milan moved within one point of the Serie A summit with a hard-fought 3-1 win over Jose Mourinho's lacklustre Roma side at San Siro, who were reduced to nine men in the second half.

First-half goals from Olivier Giroud and Junior Messias put the hosts in a commanding position before Tammy Abraham dragged Roma back into the contest. 

After a string of Mike Maignan saves kept the hosts' lead intact, Rick Karsdorp's sending-off for two bookable offences put paid to any hope of Roma earning a point, and substitute Rafeal Leao added a third on the break late on before Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed a penalty following another red card, this time for Gianluca Mancini.

Milan were handed a brilliant start, with Giroud dispatching an eighth-minute penalty after Abraham was adjudged to have handled Theo Hernandez's fierce volley. 

Things quickly went from bad to worse for Mourinho's men. Giroud intercepted a dreadful backpass from Roger Ibanez, and although his strike came back off the post, Messias buried the rebound to double the hosts' lead after just 15 minutes.

The 2-1 half-time scoreline arguably flattered Roma, who found themselves back in the contest when Abraham diverted Lorenzo Pellegrini's shot past Maignan, seconds after being denied by the France international's reflex save.

Milan almost made another fast start in the second period, with Brahim Diaz crashing a fabulous effort against the bar on 50 minutes, before Maignan was forced into two more good saves by Abraham and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

With 20 minutes remaining, the already-booked Karsdrop received his marching orders for a desperate lunch on Hernandez on the edge of the penalty area, killing the visitors' hopes of leaving with a result. 

Alessandro Florenzi rattled the bar from the resulting free-kick, before Leao, returning from injury as a substitute, finished the contest with a late breakaway goal, his sixth of the season.

That was not the end of the drama, with Roma's Mancini joining Karsdrop for an early bath by bringing down Leao. Ibrahimovic, however, saw his penalty saved by Rui Patricio, maintaining some respectability for Mourinho's side.

 

What does it mean? Milan apply early 2022 pressure to Inter

Thanks to a raft of COVID-19 cases and Africa Cup of Nations call-ups, Stefano Pioli was forced to select a makeshift side, but they produced a largely accomplished display to move within a single point of cross-city rivals Inter in the title race.

Milan have also now won three consecutive league games against Roma for the first time since 1996.

Mourinho's men stay seventh, six points outside the top four.

Home comforts for Giroud

Former Arsenal and Chelsea man Giroud opened the scoring with his fifth league goal of the campaign, and all of the World Cup winner's strikes for Milan have come at San Siro.

Among all the other players to have netted five or more goals in a top-five European League this season, only Bruno Fernandes and Mattia Aramu have also scored all of theirs at home.

Milan press home their superiority

Pioli has masterminded Milan's title charge by implementing an exhilarating, high-pressing game at San Siro, forcing opponents into errors in perilous positions. 

Going into this game, no Serie A team had attempted more than the Rossoneri's tally of 37 shots from high turnovers this season. This quality was on display once again, with Messias' crucial second goal originating from Giroud intercepting Ibanez's slack pass.

What's next?

Notwithstanding a continuation of the coronavirus-caused chaos that has engulfed Serie A this week, Milan travel to Venezia for Sunday's early kick-off, while Roma face a huge clash with Juventus at the Stadio Olimpico later that day.

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