A big win and a nice early Christmas present. The Rossoneri put four past Empoli as they concluded 2021 in style. A win was much-needed for AC Milan, who were hoping to draw a line under a recent run of iffy form in the league; and that's just what happened after a solid team performance. It was an efficient performance in front of goal against a very tough opponent. The three points are certainly well deserved and were picked up following a Kessie brace, Florenzi's first goal for the Club and Hernández's strike. Pioli's decision to deploy Franck further up the field paid off as the Ivorian starred in the first half.
The good feeling was also doubled given the fact that Napoli and lost and Atalanta and Roma both drew. AC Milan have taken 42 points from 19 matches and stay in second place in the table - four points behind the leaders. The fight will continue into 2022. It was a tough but emotional and fruitful year, one that was rich in growth and milestones - not to mention the return to the Champions League. It's now time for the winter break and a much-needed rest. When we return, Thursday 6 January, San Siro welcomes a big fixture: AC Milan v Roma at 18:30 CET. Well done, lads, and happy holidays to all Rossoneri.
CHECK OUT THE GALLERY FROM EMPOLI v AC MILAN
The most notable change was Kessie starting as an attacking midfielder. And it was Franck - after a lively start from the hosts - who opened the scoring in the twelfth minute: Saelemaekers' cross, Giroud's flick-on and the Ivorian's low, driven shot to beat Vicario. The lead didn't last long and Empoli got themselves level through Bajrami, who picked up the loose ball in the box and rifled it past Maignan from an acute angle (18'). AC Milan struggled to get going again and, in the 24th minute, Żurkowski threatened with a shot that went over and then Maignan kept out Pinamonti with a stunning save (37'). Kessie took matters into his own hands and got his and AC Milan's second goal with three minutes of normal time left in the first half, sticking it between the keeper's legs. In added time, Vicario shut down an effort from Saelemaekers and, then Romagnoli fired just wide. Half time.
The second half started with Rossoneri hearts in mouths as Bajrami skipped away from the defenders in the boy and cannoned his effort against the crossbar (47'). The game then drew on with very little excitement until the final hour; then, the Rossoneri stamped their authority on the game. In the 63rd minute, Florenzi placed his free-kick beautifully to make it 3-1 before Hernández tucked away the Rossoneri's fourth (69'). The Azzurri were three goals behind but didn't give up. Pioli made a raft of changes; among them was Bakayoko, who gave away a penalty for handball in the 84th minute. Pinamonti stepped up and converted the penalty. In added time, Romagnoli's volleyed effort from range struck the crossbar.
EMPOLI 2-4 AC MILAN
EMPOLI (4-3-1-2): Vicario; Stojanović (46' Marchizza), S. Romagnoli, Luperto, Parisi; Henderson (85' Asllani), Ricci (85' Štulać), Żurkowski (68' Bandinelli); Bajrami; Cutrone (68' La Mantia), Pinamonti. Subs: Furlan, Ujkani; Tonelli, Viti; Di Francesco, Mancuso. Coach: Andreazzoli.
AC MILAN (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Florenzi (70' Kalulu), Tomori, A. Romagnoli, Hernández; Tonali (70' Bakayoko), Bennacer (81' Krunić); Messias (81' Díaz), Kessie, Saelemaekers; Giroud. A disp.: Mirante, Tătărușanu; Ballo-Touré, Gabbia; Castillejo; Maldini. Coach: Pioli.
Referee: Di Bello from Brindisi.
Goals: 12' and 42' Kessie (M), 18' Bajrami (E), 63' Florenzi (M), 69' Hernández (M), 84' pen. Pinamonti (E).
Booked: 39' Tonali (M), 62' S. Romagnoli (E), 80' Bennacer (M).
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