AC Milan’s woeful start to the year went from bad to worse on Sunday, potentially putting title-winning coach Stefano Pioli’s job at risk.
Milan was humiliated 5-2 at San Siro by Sassuolo to leave the defending champion without a win in its past six matches. Next up is the Serie A derby against fierce rival Inter Milan next Sunday.
It was the first time in Milan’s history that it has conceded four goals in successive Serie A matches after losing 4-0 at Lazio midweek. It was also the first time since 1997 that Milan has conceded five goals in a league match at home.
Milan also crashed out of the Italian Cup against 10-man Torino and lost the Italian Super Cup 3-0 to Inter.
The Rossoneri slipped to fourth and could even fall to sixth at the end of the day after Roma and Lazio play later, against league leader Napoli and Fiorentina, respectively.
Milan director Paolo Maldini had laughed off suggestions midweek that Pioli’s job could be on the line, just eight months after leading the team to its first Serie A title in 11 years.
Sassuolo moved up to 16th, eight points above the relegation zone with its first win since mid-October.
Domenico Berardi was again a thorn in Milan’s side, with three assists and a goal. That took the Sassuolo forward’s tally to 11 goals and seven assists against Milan.
Milan actually started the stronger side at San Siro and Olivier Giroud thought he had given his team the lead in the eighth minute, but it was ruled out for offside.
And then the team collapsed.
Berardi set up Grgoire Defrel for the opener in the 19th minute and then provided another assist for Davide Frattesi to smash past Ciprian Ttruanu just three minutes later.
The Milan players looked shellshocked but managed to pull one back two minutes later when Giroud headed in Davide Calabria’s cross.
However, Berardi headed in a corner on the half-hour mark to restore Sassuolo’s two-goal advantage.
It was the fourth straight match that Milan had been two goals down at the break and it was roundly jeered off the field by a packed San Siro.
Things went from bad to worse immediately after the restart as Calabria fouled Armand Laurient in the opening minute of the second half and the Sassuolo forward dusted himself down to convert the resulting penalty.
Milan thought it had got back into the game in the 55th minute but Ante Rebi’s goal was ruled out for offside again by the video assistant referee.
Matheus Henrique capped off Sassuolo’s memorable match in the 79th minute, shortly after coming on, with his first Serie A goal – again set up by Berardi.
The Milan fans started streaming out although a significant number remained, chanting their support, when Divock Origi scored a consolation for the hosts two minutes later.
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