Serie A | Empoli 1-3 Milan: Rossoneri never say die

Milan proved they do not give up with two goals in stoppages from Fode Ballo-Toure and Rafael Leao, after the Portuguese talent’s cheeky idea to send Ante Rebic clear and an Empoli equaliser.

The Rossoneri injury crisis dragged on, with Mike Maignan, Theo Hernandez and Junior Messias joining Divock Origi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alessandro Florenzi into the treatment room, but Rafael Leao returned from suspension after missing the 2-1 defeat to Napoli. Empoli missed Lorenzo Tonelli and Ardian Ismajli, but were buoyed by their first victory of the season away to Bologna.

Olivier Giroud attempted a cheeky back-heel flick deflected wide from six yards, then Guglielmo Vicario used his legs to deny Leao on a Charles De Ketelaere assist.

Ciprian Tatarusanu had his first game of the season and looked rusty, almost allowing a Liam Henderson effort to squirm under him at the near post.

Alexis Saelemaekers failed to make the most of a smart Leao run and pull-back, turning wide of the far stick, then the Belgian forced a save from Vicario moments later.

Giroud’s cross only grazed the head of Leao in front of an open goal, then Saelemaekers went off with a left knee injury. Moments after that, Davide Calabria pulled up with what appeared to be a hamstring strain and Nicolas Haas couldn’t score thanks to a desperate Fode Ballo-Toure block.

Alberto Grassi also went off injured and Vicario palmed a Leao effort onto the upright, but it wouldn’t have counted due to Giroud’s offside in the build-up.

After the restart, Marko Pjaca skipped past Ismael Bennacer to see his shot charged down by Simon Kjaer, then Razvan Marin drilled the rebound just wide.

Olivier Giroud was unlucky not to give Milan the lead on 55 minutes when his free kick sailed over the bar and thumped the top of the crossbar.

Sam Lammers nodded over, but Vicario made a fantastic reaction save when readjusting at the last second on Sandro Tonali’s deflected free kick to palm it off the line.

Tatarusanu also had to make a fine save when one-on-one with Nadim Bajrami, who had shrugged off Tonali to go clear.

Milan took the lead with a very cheeky bit of play, taking advantage of the fact you cannot be offside from a throw-in. Leao was in acres of space and waved his arms to get Tonali to throw it in his direction, able to then roll across for substitute Ante Rebic to tap in undisturbed.

A Brahim Diaz free kick whizzed just wide and Bajrami ballooned over when the Lammers assist bobbled just in front of him.

However, Bajrami made up for it with a splendid free kick curled into the far top corner from just outside the D, though Tatarusanu’s positioning was suspect and the reason he couldn’t get there.

It wasn’t over, because just as Empoli were still celebrating, Milan restored their lead. A ball was floated in from the left, Krunic nodded it down and Fode Ballo-Toure was ready to volley in from close range at the back post.

Empoli tried to fight back, but it allowed Leao to sprint away on the counter-attack and beat Vicario with a ridiculously composed and calm lob.

Empoli 1-3 Milan

Rebic 79 (M), Bajrami 92 (E), Ballo-Toure 94 (M), Leao 97 (M)

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