That concludes our coverage of the Serie A fixture between Spezia and Milan! We hope you enjoyed it!
Spezia will look to make it three wins in a row on Friday when they travel to face Fiorentina. Milan visit Red Star Belgrade on Thursday in the Europa League, before a massive tie against Inter next Sunday in Serie A.
The league leaders failed to turn up as Spezia thoroughly dominated, winning by a deserved 2-0 score line. From start to finish, the hosts were the superior side as Milan were not allowed to get any kind of rhythm going. After an impressive first half that failed to produce any goals, Italiano’s side made their ascendancy pay in the second, scoring twice through Maggiore and Bastoni; a first Serie A goal for both of them. The margin of victory could have been more, if not for some desperate last-ditch defending from Milan, who – in any case – fail to put any distance between themselves and Inter ahead of tomorrow. The Rossoneri stay top with the defeat, while Spezia jump into 14th.
90′ + 3′ FULL-TIME: SPEZIA 2-0 MILAN.
90′ + 2′ The set-piece is taken to the far post, where Mandzukic meets the cross but is unable to turn it towards goal – putting it behind for a goal-kick.
90′ + 1′ Mandzukic wins a free-kick after a clumsy tackle from Ismajli – giving Milan one last chance to threaten.
89′ The fourth official indicates three minutes will be added for stoppages.
87′ Spezia take a corner-kick short to Acampora looking to wind down the clock, but a quick Hernandez intervention puts it out for a throw-in.
85′ Spezia have collected only 29% of their points in this Serie A season in home games (6/21), the lowest percentage.
83′ Hauge is in for Calhanoglu, who wasn’t at his best in this game.
83′ Spezia make their first change of the match, replacing Maggiore with Acampora.
83′ Castillejo replaces Saelemaekers on the wing with seven minutes remaining.
81′ With just under 10 minutes remaining, it looks as though Pioli is readying his final substitutes – still searching for a goal.
79′ Calhanoglu takes the free-kick deep to the far post for Ibrahimovic, who is brought down inside the penalty area as the delivery rolls out for a goal-kick. After a quick VAR check, the assistant agrees with the referee and urges the goalkeeper to resume play.
77′ Milan launch it long to Ibrahimovic as they search for a way to get back in the match, and end up winning a free-kick after Meite’s pass hits the arm of Estevez.
75′ Agudelo drives into the penalty area with skill and power before laying it off to Agudelo. The cross comes in from the right but it’s too easy for Donnarumma, who leaps comfortably.
73′ Dalot desperately chases down possession – but brings Maggiore down in the process, giving Spezia a free-kick deep in their own half.
71′ Milan’s last Serie A defeat away from the San Siro Stadium dates back to 22nd December 2019 against Atalanta: more than 400 days have passed since then.
69′ Milan have just over 20 minutes to rescue a two-goal deficit, but it doesn’t look likely. The Rossoneri have shown little today to inspire hope of a frantic finish; it’s a true test of their title credentials.
67′ Estevez is credited with the assist – his short free-kick allowing Bastoni to strike towards goal.
67′ FREE-KICK? NO PROBLEM! 2-0 SPEZIA! The goal is worked sensationally as Estevez rolls the free-kick to the top of the box for Bastoni, whose first-time shot with his left foot curls spectacularly into the far corner! It’s a strike of the highest quality as the hosts double their advantage!
66′ Dalot is booked for bringing Saponara down right on the edge of the penalty area. Spezia players are calling for a penalty, but the referee stands firm that the contact occurred outside the penalty area.
65′ Bennacer makes way for Meite in the third of Milan’s alterations.
64′ A change in defence for the Rossoneri sees Tomori in for Kjaer.
64′ Milan make three changes at once as Pioli searches for a way to salvage a result. The first alteration sees Mandzukic replace Leao.
62′ Gyasi backs into Hernandez during an aerial duel and gives away a free-kick, allowing Milan to clear their lines.
60′ Ibrahimovic himself takes the free-kick, but can’t do any better than Calhanoglu – as the striker smashes his delivery squarely into the wall.
58′ Erlic is shown a yellow card for dragging Ibrahimovic down to the turf outside the penalty area in a central position. It’s the third booking for a Spezia defender, and we haven’t even reached the hour yet.
56′ SPEZIA TAKE THE LEAD! It’s a fully deserved goal for the hosts, who finally break the deadlock with a wonderfully worked passage of play. Agudelo starts the move with a powerful drive through midfield, before shifting it to his right for Gyasi. The winger puts it back into the centre which forces Donnarumma off his line. A deflection puts the ball kindly to Maggiore – who slots it in the empty net! 1-0!
55′ The Rossoneri finally make their way up the pitch via Hernandez, but their attack is prematurely halted as Leao is called for a foul after losing control of the ball.
54′ More desperate Milan defending as Kjaer is forced into a last-ditch sliding challenge to block a free Bastoni strike from inside the penalty area. It isn’t looking good for the league leaders, who haven’t shown anything resembling their best form today.
52′ Hernandez stands over the dead ball but it’s Calhanoglu who strikes it – slipping on his way. The midfielder makes good contact despite his poor footing but sends the strike into the wall anyways.
50′ Bennacer lofts a high cross to the edge of the 18-yard box for Ibrahimovic, who is bowled over clumsily by Erlic. Milan have a free-kick in a dangerous position.
48′ Bastoni hits the free-kick to the back post, but Dalot is positioned well to clear it away before Milan win themselves a throw-in.
47′ Bennacer gives away a free-kick just outside the penalty area on the left – another chance for Spezia to break the deadlock.
46′ Milan get the match restarted from the kick-off!
Despite the absence of Ante Rebic, Milan’s bench looks a frightening prospect. Castillejo and Hauge are available to challenge Spezia’s booked full-backs late on with their pace, while perhaps Mandzukic will provide adequate replacement for Ibrahimovic. Spezia have done so well to create chances, but a real lack of composure in front of goal could see one of Agoume or Galabinov called upon.
Spezia and Milan enter the half-time interval at the Stadio Alberto Picco, level at 0-0 despite an entertaining first half that saw a number of chances. The hosts were the better of the two teams in the first 45 minutes, looking better both in and out of possession. Their intensive press forced Milan into poor turnovers on more than one occasion – with Agudelo twice going clear through on goal without beating the keeper. The Rossoneri themselves offered extremely little in attack, with their two free-kicks in two minutes the most pressure they managed to exert.
45′ HALF-TIME: SPEZIA 0-0 MILAN.
44′ Italiano will certainly be the happier of the two coaches at half-time if the match were to stay level, though he must feel as though his side deserve a lead, after a really impressive first-half performance.
42′ Milan have kept the most clean sheets in this Serie A season (8), exactly double the total kept by Spezia (four).
40′ Estevez takes a Spezia corner and puts it right on the penalty spot, but Kjaer asserts his dominance and whacks the ball away with a powerful header.
38′ Spezia move the ball quickly before finding Maggiore just inside the penalty area. The captain leans back and has a strike at goal looking for the far post – but he puts his shot behind for a goal-kick.
36′ With over 30 minutes played – it has to be said that Spezia have been the better team. The hosts have shown more intent and a greater desire to win back the ball. Having said that, Italiano will only be concerned with his side’s lack of goals, as they’ve nothing to show for their superiority.
34′ Estevez takes the free-kick looking to put it at Donnarumma, but Ibrahimovic does his defensive work and blocks the shot before it could get to the goalie.
32′ Saponara is taken down on the left corner of Milan’s penalty area. The Rossoneri have again gifted their opponents a chance to challenge Donnarumma – who has remained unflustered so far.
30′ Calhanoglu takes Milan’s first corner of the match and finds Romagnoli, who puts his acute-angle header just wide of the near post.
28′ Milan have won both matches in all competitions against Spezia (Coppa Italia in 2014 and Serie A last October), always scoring three goals.
26′ CLOSE! Calhanoglu’s clipped free-kick finds Hernandez, who can only turn his header just wide of the post!
24′ Bastoni’s unorthodox tackle brings down Saelemaekers just outside the Spezia penalty area, earning the full-back a yellow card.
24′ Calhanoglu takes the free-kick, but it’s a completely wasted opportunity as the midfielder is unable to beat the first man with the delivery.
23′ Milan win a free-kick just outside Spezia’s penalty area after Hernandez received a kick to the back of the leg. It didn’t look intentional – just late – but the full-back is still shown a yellow card for the challenge.
21′ Donnarumma is quick out of his penalty area to put a Maggiore pass out for a Spezia throw-in after Agudelo’s run had taken him in-between the two centre-backs with space to operate.
19′ Hernandez wins a free-kick in midfield after receiving Gyasi’s knee in his back. The set-piece is taken short and quick, but Milan lose it almost immediately after an intercepted pass near the touchline.
17′ After pushing all the way down the right wing, Milan are forced to go back to Donnarumma in order to start again. The Rossoneri have been better in the last few minutes, but they’ve failed to put combinations of passes together – instead forcing long passes over the top to incite attacks.
15′ Milan’s goal is under siege as Spezia swing another free-kick into the penalty area after a Hernandez foul on the right wing, but Erlic is unable to trouble Donnarumma with his wayward header.
13′ WHAT A SAVE FROM DONNARUMMA! A Spezia corner-kick is cleared out of Milan’s penalty area, but only to the edge of the 18 for Saponara. The former Milan midfielder takes a lovely touch to beat Hernandez – before firing a high shot that forces a great reaction from the goalkeeper.
11′ How has Agudelo not scored!? The striker slips into the penalty area and takes on a number of Milan defenders – walking by each one on his path to goal. With nobody but Donnarumma to beat however, the striker is unable to get the ball out from under his feet – allowing Kjaer to race back and clear the danger.
9′ The hosts win the ball back high after Bennacer’s misplaced pass was intercepted just in front of the penalty area. Good defending from the Milan centre-backs prevents a chance on-goal, but Spezia are allowed to keep it after a good passing spell
7′ Estevez swings the free-kick into the area and finds Gyasi – who can only direct his header into the hands of the goalkeeper.
6′ Spezia win a free-kick on the right wing after Hernandez’s not-so-subtle push on Vignali. Can they use the early set-piece to trouble Donnarumma?
5′ Again Milan give away possession, this time from a goal-kick as Ibrahimovic is unable to corral the Donnarumma pass – allowing Spezia to once again win the ball in the opponent’s half.
3′ Milan are having trouble exiting their half with the ball in the early stages as Spezia press very high up the pitch. The visitors are having a difficult time settling, as both Kessie and Bennacer have been forced to go back to the defence under duress.
1′ Spezia get the match underway from the kick-off!
Milan make four changes from their 4-0 thrashing of Crotone last Sunday. Dalot replaces the suspended Davide Calabria at right-back, while Kjaer’s return to fitness sees him start at centre-back over Tomori. Bennacer is deemed healthy enough to start replacing Meite in midfield as is Calhanoglu, who starts for the first time since January 6. He’s in for Ante Rebic.
Spezia make three changes from their 2-1 win over Sassuolo last weekend. Ismajli replaces the injured Claudio Terzi in defence, while Estevez and Saponara replace Sena and Verde in midfield.
MILAN SUBS: Fikayo Tomori, Matteo Gabbia, Mario Mandzukic, Ciprian Tatarusanu, Jens Hauge, Sandro Tonali, Samu Castillejo, Soualiho Meite, Pierre Kalulu, Antonio Donnarumma, Rade Krunic.
MILAN XI (4-2-3-1): Gianluigi Donnarumma; Diogo Dalot, Simon Kjaer, Alessio Romagnoli, Theo Hernandez; Franck Kessie, Ismael Bennacer; Alexis Saelemaekers, Hakan Calhanoglu, Rafael Leao; Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
SPEZIA SUBS: Cristian Dell’Orco, Riccardo Marchizza, Tommaso Pobega, Lucien Agoume, Julian Chabot, Juan Ramos, Andrej Galabinov, Daniele Verde, Gennaro Acampora, Leo Sena, Jeroen Zoet, Elio Capradossi.
SPEZIA XI (4-3-1-2): Ivan Provedel; Simone Bastoni, Ardian Ismajli, Martin Erlic, Luca Vignali; Giulio Maggiore, Matteo Ricci, Nahuel Estevez; Riccardo Saponara; Emmanuel Gyasi, Kevin Agudelo.
With 15 minutes to go before kick-off, let’s take a look at how the two sides are lining up – starting with our hosts!
Leaders Milan look to put a five-point gap between themselves and rivals Inter, who host Lazio tomorrow. The Rossoneri have responded well to their 3-0 defeat to Atalanta three weeks ago, winning their next two Serie A matches by an aggregate score of 6-1. With the derby coming up next week, any dropped points will feel like a loss for Stefano Pioli, who must also navigate a difficult Europa League tie against Red Star Belgrade in the coming days.
An impressive debut campaign in Serie A has seen Spezia amass 21 points in 21 matches, putting them six away from the drop zone. Staying in the division will be the main target for coach Vincenzo Italiano, who has helped his cause by orchestrating two wins in their last five matches – including a fantastic 2-1 victory at Sassuolo last weekend.
Hello and welcome to our LIVE coverage of the Serie A fixture between Spezia and Milan!