Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milano, Italy
A.C. Milan moved up to fifth in the Italian Serie A as a result of a nil-nil draw against Atalanta, credit to a fine goalkeeping display from sixteen year old keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who kept a clean sheet to prevent the away side from taking all three points.
The home side briefly started well before a succession of misplaced passes enabled the visitors to gain possession of the ball and almost made it count. Alejandro Gómez tried to bend one in the far corner, but his strike was well wide. It was the only shot for the first quarter of an hour, and since then, the Rossoneri had got more involved, though nothing came of it.
The only action of note worth mentioning, came in the first 19 minutes, Boukary Dramé had to get substituted for Gianpaolo Bellini due to an injury. A minute later, Carlos Bacca did very well to create some space and almost found a way through, but the Colombian’s effort was charged down.
As the half-hour mark approached, neither side looked hungry to take the lead, although both sides enjoyed spells on the ball. From a corner, the away side came close, veteran substitute Bellini’s strike flashed wide of 16 year old keeper Donnarumma’s goal. Moments later, Mattia De Sciglio was lucky to escape a second yellow card, having previously been booked, the Milan full-back, caught Mauricio Pinilla and was fortunate not to receive his marching orders.
The home side almost broke the deadlock, M’Baye Niang made a fine solo-run, but his effort was straightforward for Marco Sportiello, who gathered at the second attempt on 37 minutes. There wasn’t much goal-mouth action towards the end of the first-half as the referee blew his whistle to bring an entertaining first 45 minutes to an end.
During the interval, the Rossoneri opted for a change, bringing on 18 year old Davide Calabria for De Sciglio, on a yellow card. The second half began with the home-side dominating as expected. They came agonisingly close, Alessio Cerci’s delivery from a freekick found Bacca, and his header was saved fantastically from point-blank range by Sportiello, although the flag was already up for offside against the Colombian. Minutes later the impressive Niang came close again, and his curling effort stung the hands of Sportiello again.
From then on, it was the away side that controlled the game. They came close, Pinilla was played on-side but his finish was sliced and well-off the mark. Minutes later the away side had a real shout for a penalty, Gómez was sent tumbling by substitute Calabria, but somehow, the referee booked the Argentine for simulation, although the former was clearly caught by the youngster. After the hour-mark, Luca Cigarini should have put the away side ahead. Maximiliano Moralez’s inch-perfect cross found Cigarini, and after his header was saved well by the teenage keeper, his rebound was scuffed over- with the goal at his mercy. Moralez was involved again soon after, his shot was tipped behind again by youngster Donnarumma at his near-post. From the resulting corner, Marten de Roon’s first-time shot flew just past the top-corner. This was Atalanta’s best spell of the game.
They came close to breaking through again, Gómez got to the by-line and pulled the ball back to Alberto Grassi; and he was denied by Donnarumma again, with his outstretched foot. The home-side almost snatched a goal against the run of play, substitute Luiz Adriano’s header following a corner was cleared off the line.
With four minutes of additional time to play, substitute Keisuke Honda won a fortunate freekick and Cerci’s delivery found Philippe Mexes but the Frenchman could only head over. Moments later, a superb break from an Atalanta corner, saw Milan surge forward. Andrea Poli played in Cerci, who rounded the keeper, but could only hit the side-netting from a tight angle. It wouldn’t have counted either: as the flag was up. That was the last real action of the game as the game ended as a goalless stalemate.
The draw meant that Milan moved up to fifth on twenty points, temporarily leapfrogging Sassuolo by a point, who play later this weekend. Their opposition Atalanta remained in eighth on eighteen points, temporarily, before the rest of the weekend’s games.