AC Milan kept their Scudetto hopes firmly alive thanks to a dramatic goal in added time to engineer a 2-1 comeback win against Lazio in the capital.
The game couldn’t have started much worse for Milan as they went a goal down in the early stages when Ciro Immobile added to his tally of 25 league goals, stealing in from close range to divert home a cross from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
Heading into the second half the Rossoneri knew they had to dig deep and that’s exactly what they did, equalizing early on through Olivier Giroud’s close range finish and then winning it in the second minute of added time as Sandro Tonali bundled in after a headed assist from Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The win propels Milan back into first place in the league table and the pressure shifts back on to Inter to win their game in hand against Bologna in midweek, while the next game sees Fiorentina come to San Siro.
Stefano Pioli made two changes to the starting XI from the team that lost to Inter in midweek as Junior Messias came in for Alexis Saelemaekers on the right wing while Brahim Diaz got the nod with Ismael Bennacer out injured, and Franck Kessie moved back into the double pivot alongside Sandro Tonali.
It took less than four minutes for the home side to open the scoring with their first attack of the game. Manuel Lazzari burst clear inside the box down the right side and fired in a low cross for Immobile to bury his 26th Serie A goal of the campaign with what was essentially a tap-in.
The Rossoneri then took charge of the game as they innocent their search to draw level and Olivier Giroud had his first opportunity. The French striker was on the end of a cross from Messias near the byline but glanced his header wide of the far post.
Mike Maignan was called into action as he came sprinting 25 yards off his line to stop Immobile latching onto another dangerous through ball, and he saved again not long after from a shot on the edge of the box that never really had the venom to beat him .
Rafael Leao was left kicking himself in the 28th minute when he span into space inside the area and got room for a quickfire shot into the netting side. He lifted his head up to see Giroud questioning why he didn’t square it for an easy tap-in, and then not long after Kessie should have done better than firing into the hands of Strakosha.
Giroud was once again found by a cross having got the wrong side of his marker but once again headed an effort wide, this time from Calabria’s delivery.
Milan had huge appeals for a penalty after a corner was not cleared and Brahim Diaz diverted the ball onto the arm of Patric but the referee adjudged his hand to have been in a natural position and the VAR chief Orsato agreed.
Strakosha had to be alert from a free-kick 25 yards out as Theo Hernandez chose to shoot near post rather than angle in a cross, though he did save well down low to his right.
Less than five minutes into the second half, Milan drew themselves level and it was thanks to the fantastic work of Leao. The Portuguese winger drifted past his man in a foot race down the left edge of the box and cut a teasing ball back into the path of Giroud who was waiting at the near post to stab home.
Milan then began to push for a goal to get themselves ahead with Maurizio Sarri’s men on the ropes. Messias was twice at the heart of big chances; the first being a corner that was flicked on and was begging to be stabbed home at the back post but flashed through, and the second saw the Brazilian blast wide when found unmarked by a Leao cross to the back post.
Again Messias was inches away from giving the Rossoneri the lead their pressure deserved when he knocked the ball past Radu and dribbled into the box before curling an effort just wide of Strakosha’s far post.
Just seconds after Theo Hernandez flashed a cross across goal when he should have dropped it back to Brahim Diaz or found Giroud, a double change came. Giroud and Brahim made way, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his return while Ante Rebic replaced the Spaniard. Another substitution followed with 20 minutes remaining as Rade Krunic came on for Messias.
Leao was shifting from left wing to right and back again to try and cause some havoc, and Strakosha made an excellent save to deny him at the near post after a wonderful jinking run, though there may have been options to square it. Strakosha saved again a minute later when Rebic shot from distance and nearly beat him with the swerve.
The final change came with five minutes left as Leao made way for Alexis Saelemaekers.
The frantic nature of the game continued into the final seconds of normal time when a cross found its way to Ibrahimovic who set himself but saw his shot blocked, and then the resulting corner was cleared to Theo who had Strakosha beaten yet couldn’t guide his effort inside the post.
Just as it looked as though all hope was lost, Milan found a way to get the winner in the second minute of added time. Rebic won the ball on the left wing and a cross was not properly dealt with by Lazio. Ibrahimovic was the man who got on the end of the failed clearance and nodded it into the path of Tonali, who bundled it past Strakosha after a touch.