AC Milan 2 Crotone 1: Lapadula winner spares Niang's blushes

Gianluca Lapadula scored a late winner as AC Milan came from behind to beat struggling Crotone 2-1 and stay within four points of Serie A leaders Juventus.


AC Milan's Gianluca Lapadula scores the winner against Crotone.

Gianluca Lapadula scored a late winner as AC Milan came from behind to beat struggling Crotone 2-1 and stay within four points of Serie A leaders Juventus.

Juve put seven points between themselves and the chasing pair of Roma and Milan with a 3-1 win over Atalanta on Saturday, but the Rossoneri managed to keep pace with the reigning champion.

Milan wore the crest of Brazilian club Chapecoense, who had the majority of their team tragically killed in a plane crash this week, on its sleeves as well as the phrase 'Forca Chape' on the back for Sunday's contest, which saw Crotone take a surprise lead in the 26th minute through Diego Falcinelli's fifth goal of the season.

Vincenzo Montella's men levelled four minutes before half-time courtesy of Mario Pasalic's header but M'Baye Niang spurned a gilt-edged chance to complete the turnaround when he failed to convert a penalty won by Lapadula.

But Lapadula, who had earlier wasted a glorious opportunity of his own from point-blank range, spared Niang's blushes by firing home on the turn four minutes from time.

The result piles the pressure on Roma, who must now beat arch-rival Lazio in the derby later on Sunday to stay level on points with Milan, and temporarily puts Crotone bottom.

An open start to proceedings saw Jose Sosa swerve an effort over for Milan before Leonardo Capezzi forced Gianluigi Donnarumma to tip the ball behind with a fierce drive from just outside the area.

Niang flicked a header over as Milan began to take control, with the Frenchman then surging into space only to curl a wild effort high and wide of the mark.

And Milan was made to pay for Niang's inability to take advantage of those opportunities by Falcinelli, who coolly slotted in the opener from close range after Marcus Rohden kept his composure under a clumsy challenge from Mattia De Sciglio to tee him up.

Only a fine tackle from Federico Ceccherini prevented Niang from levelling matters, but parity was restored from the subsequent corner.

Suso's near-post delivery was flicked on by Gabriel Paletta and into the path of Pasalic, who made it 1-1 with a stooping header.

The turnaround should have been completed shortly after the restart when Ignazio Abate managed to direct a diving header back across goal for Lapadula, but the ball bounced off the striker's knee and onto his hand with the goal at his mercy from two yards out.

But Lapadula atoned for that bizarre miss almost instantly by winning a penalty, going down under an ill-advised challenge from Lorenzo Crisetig.

However, Niang was unable to end his five-game run without a goal, Alex Cordaz - a graduate of the Inter youth academy - springing to his right to deny him from 12 yards.

Milan's efforts to make amends were frustrated and they were grateful to Donnarumma for preventing Crotone from retaking the lead, Trotta's powerful low strike from the edge of the area parried by the teenage keeper following a well-worked counter from the visitors. 

But Crotone could not hold out for the draw their performance merited, Lapadula having the final say after the visitors failed to deal with Keisuke Honda's free-kick.


Key Opta stats:
- Milan has been behind three times at San Siro in Serie A this season, recouping six points: two wins (vs Sassuolo and Crotone) and one defeat (vs Udinese).
- Crotone has lost 15 points from leading situations - a league-high this term.
- Milan averaged its highest possession (70.2 per cent) in a Serie A game this season.
- Gianluca Lapadula has scored for the first time at San Siro in his first start at home for Milan.
- The previous Mario Pasalic league goal dated back to November 2015 in Monaco-Nantes, 379 days ago.

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :