Krzysztof Piatek's second half strike settled a cagey affair between Chievo and Milan on Saturday night at the Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi. Lucas Biglia's stunning free-kick was cancelled out by Përparim Hetemaj's well placed header in the first half as bottom side Chievo battled hard against a high-flying Milan side.
Chievo couldn't be faulted for their effort, fighting for every ball and constantly hassling the Rossoneri. Gennaro Gattuso's players were guilty on occasion of letting the feisty nature of this game getting to them, meaning some passes were misplaced and attacking rhythm was built sparingly.
Piatek's scored his sixth goal for Milan since his move in January, providing the cutting edge that Gattuso's side had been lacking earlier in the season, and unsettled the Chievo defence with his presence throughout.
Key Talking Point
Chievo's players will have felt hard done by as VAR allowed Krzysztof Piatek's goal to stand. The debate will rage over whether Piatek had in fact committed a foul in the build-up to his strike, with Chievo claiming his foot was high and he should have been penalised.
Up till that point, Chievo were threatening the Milan defence, but this goal seemed to throw them off-track for a period, and the game became broken up with bitty fouls by frustrated Chievo players.
They never seemed to regain an attacking cutting edge, and any attacks were easily dealt with by the Milan defence.
Starting XI: Sorrentino (5); Andreolli (5), Barba (6), Bani (6), Depaoli (5); Leris (6), Diousse (5), Hetemaj (6), Giaccherini (7*); Meggiorini (6), Stepinski (6)
Substitutions: Kiyine (5), Djordjevic (5), Pucciarelli (5)
Former Sunderland man Emanuele Giaccherini was lively throughout the match and, when the scores were level, he seemed the most likely to break the deadlock for Chievo.
If Serie A's bottom side are to escape relegation, they are going to need the 33-year-old firing on all cylinders – and better supported than he was on Saturday. The Italian tried to create something from nothing on a number of occasions but he was left without much support.
Key Talking Point
As a player, Gennaro Gattuso often let his emotions get the better of him, and as a manager it seems like he is no different.
It took just 35 minutes in this game before the Italian was sent to the stands by referee Luca Pairetto for clashing with one of Chievo's players. Not long after his dismissal, Chievo equalised and Gattuso's players seemed a little lost, their attacking play disjointed and early cutting edge blunted.
This red card could mean that the 41-year-old misses his side's crucial game against Inter in the Rossoneri's next outing in Serie A. His absence could mean the difference between victory and defeat and will make an already intriguing game all that more interesting.
Starting XI: Donnarumma (7); Conti (6), Musacchio (6), Romagnoli (7), Laxalt (6); Paqueta (6), Kessie (6), Biglia (8); Castillejo (7), Piatek (9*), Suso (7)
Substitutions: Calhanoglu (6), Calabria (6), Borini (5)
Piatek was a constant thorn in the side of the Chievo defence in this game. He always looked likely to score and if Milan keep giving him chances, he has made a habit of burying at least one of them.
The 23-year-old hit the ground running following his move from Genoa in January and doesn't look like stopping anytime soon. If Gattuso is looking on securing the third spot in Serie A this season, the Polish striker will be key.
He also seems to have struck up a good partnership with his attacking teammates, notably Samu Castillejo, who constantly looked for his Polish teammate. Milan seem to have a brilliant player on their hands and will worry any defence when Piatek lines up.
Chievo visit free scoring Atalanta at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia in their next league game, and Domenico Di Carlo will be looking to close the gap on second bottom Frosinone so that his side avoid the ignominy of being bottom of Serie A come the season's end.
Next up for the Rossoneri is the Milan derby with Inter, a key battle not only for its local significance but also for the battle for the Champions League places.