AC Milan 2-2 Lecce: Pioli denied winning start by spectacular late strike

Marco Calderoni struck a late equaliser as AC Milan was held to a dramatic 2-2 draw at home to Lecce in Stefano Pioli's first match in charge at San Siro.

Lecce's goal-scorers Khouma Babacar and Marco Calderoni celebrate against Milan   -  Getty Images

Stefano Pioli's reign as AC Milan coach got off to an underwhelming start as Marco Calderoni's stunning late equaliser secured struggling Lecce a 2-2 draw in San Siro.

Krzysztof Piatek had seemingly secured former Inter boss Pioli – who replaced Marco Giampaolo during the international break – a debut win with his 81st-minute goal, but Calderoni struck in stoppage time to ensure Milan dropped points for the fifth time in eight games this season.

The impressive Hakan Calhanoglu powered Milan ahead with a fine strike following Lucas Biglia's pass, but to struggled to maintain its lively start and faded towards half-time.

Khouma Babacar found the net from close range after Gianluigi Donnarumma saved his penalty in the second half, and then Piatek's strike was cancelled out by Calderoni's long-range drive to prevent Milan from moving back into the top half of the table.

A fast start from Milan saw it go close twice inside the first two minutes through Rafael Leao, who was denied by goalkeeper Gabriel and then found the side netting.

Calhanoglu was more clinical, however, giving Milan the lead in 20th minute when he emphatically found the roof of the net from an acute angle inside the penalty area.

It was nearly 2-0 soon after, but Gabriel did well to push Suso's low curling effort around the post.

Lecce capitalised on previous let-offs just past the hour – Babacar netting despite seeing his initial penalty saved by Donnarumma following Andrea Conti's handball.

READ | Ibrahimovic labels AC Milan a 'disaster', slams Paolo Maldini

Substitute Piatek thought he had secured victory nine minutes from time when steering home after Calhanoglu's clever run and cutback.

But after six minutes of time was added on, Calderoni let fly from 25 yards and his ferocious effort left Donnarumma with no chance, denying Pioli a victorious maiden outing with Milan.


What does it mean? Pioli with much to improve

Pioli should be encouraged by the football Milan played during the early exchanges. It got the ball forward quickly and looked dangerous, if a little wasteful, in attack.

But in failing to make the most of its chances, it allowed Lecce a way back in and, although Calhanoglu impressed, it has slumped to a draw in a game it should have won. 

Calhanoglu stakes his claim

Turkey international Calhanoglu has not met expectations at Milan, with recent speculation suggesting the club are open to selling him, but he showed his quality on Sunday. His goal was well taken and he was generally a creative threat in a roaming role, setting up Piatek's goal as well.

Leao fades after bright start

The young Portuguese talent looked in the mood in the first few minutes, going close twice as he troubled the right side of Lecce's defence. But thereafter he offered precious little and was hooked for match-winner Piatek in the 67th minute.

Key Opta Facts

- Milan has lost five points from leading positions, with only Brescia (six) having surrendered more in Serie A this season.
- Milan scored two goals from open play, as many as in the other seven Serie A games this season.
- Krzysztof Piatek scored his first Serie A goal as a substitute.
- Milan had six shots in the first 15 minutes of play.

What's next?

Pioli will hope it is second time lucky as he looks for a first win when Milan faces Roma in the capital next Sunday, while Lecce hosts champion Juventus the day before.

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