Junior Messias equalized with his last breath as Milan drew 1-1 with relegation-threatened Cremonese at the San Siro on Wednesday.
A victory would have allowed the Rossoneri to keep points level with rivals Inter in the race to qualify for the Champions League, but they fell behind in the 77th minute when substitute David Okereke brushed off two defenders before finishing in cold blood.
However, Milan got away with a draw as Messias’ free-kick went into the net with a deflection in the third minute of stoppage time, and Charles Pikel was sent off in the last seconds for an off-ball incident involving Sandro Tonali. .
Stefano Pioli’s men have only won two of their last nine Serie A games at a crucial moment of the season, so they have an uphill battle ahead if they want to finish in the top four.
Draw at the San Siro. #Milancremonsky #SempreMilan @Acqua_Lete pic.twitter.com/aXH3AAd6Ph
— Milan (@acmilan) May 3, 2023
Milan thought they were ahead just 11 minutes later, Alexis Salemakers raced for Pierre Kalulu’s pass before finishing in cold blood, only for a VAR check to determine a Belgian international offside.
Cremonese went to halftime despite Divock Origi approaching with a low kick as the hosts dominated the first half and they continued to upset Pioli’s men after halftime.
The visitors even took the lead when Okereke showed great strength to get past Malik Thiau and Kalulu before shooting into the bottom left corner.
However, they failed to win the game as Messias hit a low free-kick and ruthlessly snatched two much-needed points from the Lombards.
Both teams had great chances in the final seconds, but neither of them were able to take advantage of them, while Pikel was penalized for hitting Tonali and is likely to receive a lengthy suspension.
What does it mean? AC Milan lose ground in Champions League race
With Lazio, Juventus, Inter and Atalanta all winning their games on Wednesday, Milan needed three points to keep up with their European rivals.
However, they were lucky to walk away with one at the end as they only scored once against one of the league’s worst defenses, hitting the target with just five of their 18 shots and needing injury time equalization to avoid defeat.
Saelemaekers are full of confidence
After equalizing in the 97th minute from the bench away at Roma on Saturday, Salemakers was selected to start against Cremonese and put in another strong performance.
He saw the goal disallowed as it proved useful to the attack, and no other Milan player recorded more shots (three), key passes (four) and crosses (eight).
Origi fires blanks
Olivier Giroud started on the bench as Origi got a rare start, but he struggled for Milan as both he and the team performed below par.
The former Liverpool player failed to score with his three shots, missing his one big chance and failing to create an opportunity as he only managed four touches inside the Cremonese penalty area.
Key facts about Opta
– Among the teams in the top five European leagues, Milan is one of the top three teams (along with Nantes and Salernitana) to draw the most matches in all competitions in 2023.
– Messias’ kick was Milan’s first free-kick in Serie A since December 2021 (Alessandro Florenzi v Empoli).
– Pioli played 450 games as a manager in Serie A. He became the seventh manager to reach this milestone in the three-point-for-win era, after Luciano Spalletti, Francesco Guidolin, Gian Piero Gasperini, Walter Mazzarri, Carlo Ancelotti and Massimiliano Allegri.
– This season, Messias has scored 5 goals in 21 Serie A matches, equaling his result in the last campaign (5 out of 26).
Okereke is the second Cremonese to score away against Inter and Milan in Serie A in the same season, after Gustavo Desotti (who did so in 1989/90).
Both teams will play again in Serie A on Saturday, with Milan hosting Lazio and Cremonese hosting La Spezia.