In a week of upheaval for the Rossoneri, Milan slumped to a 2-1 Serie A defeat to relegation-threatened Genoa.
Milan suffered a damaging defeat for coach Stefano Pioli as Genoa claimed a shock 2-1 Serie A win at an empty San Siro on Sunday.
With the Rossoneri’s famous home absent of spectators following a decree that all sporting events in Italy take place behind closed doors until April 3 as the country battles the coronavirus outbreak, Milan turned in a drab performance.
At the end of a week that saw Milan sack chief football officer Zvonimir Boban but express support for Pioli, they were second best throughout against a Genoa side battling relegation.
Goran Pandev’s close-range finish gave Genoa the lead and Francesco Cassata doubled their advantage four minutes before half-time. Zlatan Ibrahimovic pulled one back for Milan but they remain 12 points off the top four, while Genoa move out of the bottom three, leapfrogging Lecce.
Milan fell behind in the seventh minute as Pandev was provided with the simplest of tap-ins to break the deadlock after Antonio Sanabria had dispossessed Theo Hernandez and sent a low right-wing delivery across the face of goal.
Mattia Perin displayed excellent reactions to keep out Ibrahimovic’s header from point-blank range following a clever ball from Hakan Calhanoglu as Milan sought an equaliser.
However, Genoa continued to look the more threatening in the final third and a sublime team move made it 2-0.
Sanabria was involved again as he spread the play out to right winger Davide Biraschi, whose cross was instinctively flicked on by Lasse Schone for Cassata to slide the ball home at the far post.
Milan appeared to be running out of steam in a low-key second half, but Ibrahimovic reduced the deficit with a smart volley on the turn 13 minutes from the end of normal time.
Genoa had little difficulty seeing out the win, though, as Pioli’s side remained well below their best.
What does it mean? Genoa give Pioli cause for concern
If Pioli was heartened by the backing he received 24 hours earlier, this performance should give the Milan boss reason to worry about his long-term future at the club. Despite seeing much less of the ball than their hosts, Genoa were worthy winners.
Sanabria’s star turn
Former Barcelona youth player Sanabria, on loan from Real Betis, set in motion a superb win for Genoa when he robbed Hernandez of the ball and looked the visitors’ most likely threat to score a third in the second half.
Zlatan looks a fading force
Ibrahimovic’s arrival coincided with the upturn in fortunes Milan experienced at the turn of the year. However, the 38-year-old looked every bit a player in the twilight of his career on Sunday. He should have beaten Perin with Milan’s best chance of the game and, though he did eventually give his side hope, a wayward overhead kick in the second half encapsulated his difficult day.
Key Opta Facts
– Genoa have won three of their last four Serie A matches, recording as many victories as they had managed in their previous 32 games.
– Ibrahimovic has been directly involved in seven goals in eight Serie A matches against Genoa (four goals, three assists).
Milan visit Lecce next Sunday, with Genoa hosting Parma 24 hours earlier as they look to further boost their survival hopes.