Italian Football

Maignan Rescues Draw for Faceless Champions

A depleted Sassuolo team fought off an eventless draw in Tuesday’s Serie A match at the Mapei Stadium. The defending champion Italy has seen its winning streak in six straight matches so far Niroverdi Alarmingly arrested.

Milan enjoyed a great start to the match, collecting well up front and creating several decent chances. However, some final defense from Sassuolo, along with a sad finishing touch from Stefano Pioli’s side, kept the score unchanged in the first 20 minutes of play.

Alessio Dionissi’s powerless side came close to punishing Milan for their extravagance as Giorgos Kyriakopoulos scored a penalty kick in the 23rd minute. Alessandro Florenzi tackled the Greek left winger down inside Rossoneri square, forcing referee Giovanni Airoldi to point to the penalty point.

Domenico Berardi took charge of the penalty kick, but Milan goalkeeper Mike Minnan managed to make a surprise save to deny the Italian forward. Neither side invented anything meaningful in the offensive third for the remainder of the first half.

Pioli rearranged the squad after a 2-0 home win over Bologna, but his gamble didn’t pay off. Brahim Diaz and Alexis Sailemakers were nowhere to be seen for the first 45 minutes, with the latter losing possession time after time.

Another rookie, Tommaso Pobega, failed to meet expectations as he teamed up with Ismail Bennacer in a double axis. Realizing his team’s impotence, Pioli delivered his heavy hitters just ten minutes into the second half.

Charles de Kettleri, Junior Messias and Sandro Tonali joined the fight in the 57th minute as part of Pioli’s attempt to break the deadlock. But Milan continued to struggle against Sassuolo’s solid defense line.

Despite having 62% of possession in the second half, the Serie A champions did not have a clear vision of the goal once. Sassuolo remained stubborn, which frustrated Milan’s strikers, especially Rafael Leao, who played a disappointing match by his standards.

Milan may have kept their unbeaten start to the season (W2, D2), but failing to find the net for the first time in 2022/23 doesn’t look promising. Meanwhile, after losing superstars Gianluca Scamaca and Giacomo Raspadori, Sassuolo should be more than happy with the team’s draw. Rossoneri.

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