MILAN (AP) — 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 last 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.
At the start of the year, Milan was second in Serie A and within five points of leader Napoli. It has now dropped out of the Champions League places — after Lazio drew against Fiorentina 1-1 — and is 15 points behind Napoli following the southern team’s 2-1 win over Roma.
“At the moment, as soon as we suffer a blow we can’t manage to react,” Pioli said. “I know that there’s not the same serenity as we had before, so we have to show that we can still have a good campaign and get into the Champions League … that will be our title.
“I will make and we will make as a club the best decisions. We have the derby now, we want to react and get out of this situation.”
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.
Milan is just two points behind second-place Inter, and it’s below Lazio and Atalanta on goal difference alone. Head-to-head is the first tiebreaker at the end of the season. Roma is a point further back in a tight fight for the Champions League qualifying spots.
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 Grégoire Defrel for the opener in the 19th minute and then provided another assist for Davide Frattesi to smash past Ciprian Tătărușanu just three minutes later.
The Milan players looked shocked 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.
It got worse immediately after the restart as Calabria fouled Armand Laurienté 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 but Ante Rebić’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.
Just like Napoli appears to be storming toward the title, forward Victor Osimhen seems to be heading for the goalscoring crown — and in some style too.
Osimhen netted the opener against Roma in the 17th minute, controlling a cross from Khvicha Kvaratskhelia first on his chest and then on his knee before volleying the ball into the roof of the net.
It was Osimhen’s 14th league goal this season, moving him two clear of Nigeria compatriot Ademola Lookman, who plays for Atalanta, at the top of the scoring charts.
Stephan El Shaarawy leveled for Roma in the 75th but substitute Giovanni Simeone scored what was to prove the winner four minutes from time.
Juventus welcomed back Dušan Vlahović after three months and had Paul Pogba on the bench but that was the only good news as the Bianconeri lost 2-0 at home to Silvio Berlusconi’s Monza.
Patrick Ciurria and Dany Mota scored in the first half for Monza, which also had an earlier goal ruled out for offside.
Monza, which became the first team in history to beat Juventus home and away in its debut Serie A campaign, leapfrogged the Bianconeri into 11th spot. It was a third Serie A match without a win for Juventus, which was recently penalized 15 points for false accounting.
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