AC Milan dealt Juventus a crushing blow in Serie A’s top four race with a 3-0 win in Turin, with goals from Brahim Diaz, Ante Rebic and Fikayo Tomori sending the visitors up to third.
Defeat leaves Andrea Pirlo’s disjointed Juventus facing the prospect of missing out on Champions League qualification in a season that has fallen far below the Bianconeri’s exceptionally high standards.
With Inter Milan confirmed as runaway winners, the big focus for the remainder of the Serie A season is on the race for Champions League qualification, where four into three just won’t go.
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Juventus, Milan, Atalanta and Napoli all began the weekend separated by just two points, and big wins for the latter pair heaped even more pressure on this meeting between two of the biggest clubs in Italian football.
The implications of defeat perhaps explained the standard of a disjointed and cagey game that lacked quality for long periods. And it took until 44 minutes for either side to produce something special in the final third. But Brahim Diaz’s finish certainly was that, curled brilliantly into the roof of the net after goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny could only palm a cross to him on the edge of the box.
Szczesny went some way towards making amends in the second half, saving Franck Kessie’s penalty, but had no chance when Rebic’s long-range effort arrowed into the top corner on 78 minutes.
And on-loan Chelsea centre-back Tomori made sure of the win with a towering header that also gave Milan the edge on head-to-head record – the first deciding factor if teams finish level on points at the end of the season.
Next up for Juventus it’s a trip to Sassuolo on Wednesday before the new Italian champions Inter arrive in Turin next weekend. Bologna away is their fixture on the final weekend of the season, with the Coppa Italia final coming in the midweek before that against Atalanta.
Milan have two winnable games coming up against Torino and Cagliari. But the meeting with Atalanta (currently second in the league) on the final weekend could still prove decisive for both clubs.
Talking Point – What now for Pirlo?
That Andrea Pirlo is going to lose his Juventus job at the end of the season seems certain. But if he manages to oversee a season that leaves the club outside of the top four then it’s hard to see how anybody would give him another job in Italian football anytime soon. This is, after all, the club who had won the title for nine straight seasons, prior to this campaign.
There’s still time for Juve to rescue this, but they’ll need to play a lot better than they did this evening.
Man of the Match - Fikayo Tomori (AC Milan)
The young Englishman was an absolute rock at the heart of the Milan defence, keeping Ronaldo in his pocket and limiting the home side’s second-half response to little more than a few speculative efforts. The header for his goal was impressive too… not many players outclass Chiellini in the air like that.
Juventus XI: Szczesny 6; Cuadrado 6, Chiellini 6, De Ligt 6, Alex Sandro 6; McKennie 5, Bentancur 5, Rabiot 5, Chiesa 5, Morata 4, Ronaldo 3. Subs: Kulusevski 5, Dybala 7
AC Milan XI: Donnarumma 5; Calabria 6, Kjaer 7, Tomori 8, Hernandez 7; Bennacer 6, Kessié 7, Saelemaekers 6, Calhanoglu 6, Diaz 7; Ibrahimovic 7. Subs: Rebic 7, Krunic 6, Dalot 6, Meite 6
Juventus-Milan - Esultanza rossonera
Image credit: Getty Images
30’ – Oh my word, now that is a chance. A Juve corner floats all the way through to the totally unmarked Chiellini at the back post, but he heads wide. The reaction from the veteran says it all, that was a golden opportunity.
45’ GOAL! – Diaz curls in a beauty and Milan have the lead! It all came from a free-kick cross that Szczesny palmed straight to Diaz on the edge of the box, and the attacker kept his composure to cut inside and bend a shot home. 1-0!
45’ – Hang on a minute, VAR is checking for a handball… but no, the goal stands (much to the dissatisfaction of the Juve bench). The ball got extremely close to catching his arm in the build-up, but it didn’t and the visitors have a crucial lead in the race for the top four.
56’ – The referee has given this and it’s a huge moment. Chiellini can’t believe it and you have to feel a bit of sympathy with him – the arm was outstretched as he lunged in to clear, but it’s very difficult for him to have done anything else given the motion he was making.
57’ – Kessie has been good from the spot all season, but Szczesny guesses the right way and makes a crucial save.
78’ GOAL! – What a goal that is! Rebic picks the ball up in space inside the Juventus half and lets fly from just outside the D, swerving a gem of a hit into the top corner. 2-0!
82’ GOAL! – That is surely game over! Tomori comes up for a free-kick and he rises highest in the box to head home Milan’s third.
Milan’s win is their first away in the league to Juventus for over a decade. Their last victory at the Turin club came in March 2011, before the first brick had even been laid for the Allianz Stadium.
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