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January 12, 2014
• Stadio Città del Tricolore, Reggio nell'Emilia
Referee: A. De Marco
• Attendance: 17430
D. Berardi 15', 28', 41', 47'
M. Balotelli 13'
R. Montolivo 86'
That is it from me, Tom Webber, for this evening. I hope you enjoyed that game as much as I did. Certainly one for the neutrals, and the Sassuolo fans! Thank you for joining me and have a great night.
FULL TIME - Sassuolo 4-3 Milan: Despite falling two behind to goals from Robinho and Balotelli, the Neroverdi fought back with Berardi netting an astounding four times to put his team in charge by the second half. Montolivo set up a tense ending but the hosts hung on for three points which they celebrate like a cup final win at the whistle.
90' + 6'
There is the final whistle! A famous victory for Sassuolo which lifts them out of the relegation zone. The star of the show was Berardi, though, who netted all four of their goals.
90' + 5'
VITAL FROM PEGOLO! The keeper comes off his line and gets a crucial punch on Honda's brilliant cross into the box. Is that Milan's last chance?
90' + 3'
Pazzini receives the ball inside the box and attempts to shoot on the spin. He fails to connect and instead has a little swipe at Marzorati and the referee awards Sassuolo a free kick.
90' + 2'
De Sciglio is picked out on the right and Longhi stands him up before getting in the way of his attempted cross. The left-back then shields the ball away from the Milan man and draws a tackle which sees De Sciglio touch it out of play.
90' + 1'
Balotelli tries to do it all himself, running around the outside of the defence, but he runs the ball out of play for a goal kick. There are still four minutes of added time to be played, though.
PENALTY CLAIM! Balotelli collects the ball inside the box and has his back to goal. He is swarmed upon by Neroverdi shirts and goes to ground but the referee is unmoved.
Yellow Card Mattia De Sciglio
These are nervy moments for Sassuolo and their defence are not making it any better for themselves, almost permanently camped on their own 18-yard line.
THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE EQUALISER!! Milan almost complete the comeback as Balotelli connects with a cross at the back post, but his header is saved by Pegolo. He only punches it as far as Pazzini whose follow-up effort crashes down off the bar and away from goal.
De Sciglio whips a good cross in from the near side and Pazzini connects with it at the near post. He fails to keep his effort down, though, and loops it onto the roof of the net.
Assist Nigel De Jong
Goal Riccardo Montolivo
GOOOOOAAAL!! MILAN ARE BACK IN SIGHT! A quiality finish from Montolivo, firing a low cross-goal shot into the bottom corner from 20 yards, out of the reach of the despairing Pegolo.
Milan are really ramping up the pressure here and Sassuolo are sitting deeper and deeper, inviting it onto themselves.
Antonio Floro Flores
OFF THE POST!! So close to a debut goal for Honda but his excellently-struck shot from the top of the box came back off the inside of the post. Kaka pounced on the rebound and squared for Pazzini, but Pegolo positioned himself astutely and blocked the shot on his line.
Zaza has a race with Zapata as they pair chase a ball over the top but the Colombian gets to it first. It would not have mattered anyway, as the assistant referee signals for offside. That may be his last act of the game with Floro Flores readying himself on the touchline.
Yellow Card Gianluca Pegolo
Berardi makes way for Schelotto and receives a great ovation from the home fans. What a night for the young Italian, one that will no doubt live long in his memory.
Balotelli makes some space at the top of the box and attempts to poke a pass through to Pazzini but he puts too much on it and the ball runs out for a goal kick.
STAT: Berardi, at 19-years-old, has become the youngest player ever to score four goals in one Serie A game.
Dear, dear me! Milan win a free kick on the right and Honda takes on the responsibility of firing it into the area. He hits it far too high and far too deep and Pegolo moves off to his right to pluck it out the sky and keep it in play.
Montolivo forces his way into the area impressively, with a great display of strength, but his cross into the middle is claimed easily by Pegolo. No one had made a run to try and get in that area.
STAT: Sassuolo have lost five of their eight home games so far this season, one of which was a 7-0 thrashing at the hands of Milan’s arch rivals, Inter. The Rossoneri may have felt they were on for a similar result at the start of the night but it has all gone wrong since then.
TWO CHANCES FOR MILAN!! A skidding effort from distance by Montolivo is parried away well by Pegolo at his near post, but the rebound is flighted back into the box. Honda rises to meet it with his head at the back post but his attempt hits Pazzini and goes wide of the near post.
Honda had a great opportunity to open his Milan account there but he took far too long to attempt to pull the trigger and was eventually closed down.
JUST OVER!! De Sciglio cuts the ball back from the byeline and it finds Kaka inside the box. The Brazilian fires a shot at goal but it is deflected behind for a corner. Things just don't seem to be going the way of the Diavolo any more.
Honda comes on for his Milan debut following his transfer from CSKA Moscow. He would surely have been hoping to make his first appearance for the Rossoneri under better circumstances, but the stage is set for him to become an instant hero by helping stage a memorable comeback.
Yellow Card Marcello Gazzola
Gazzola is the next to pick up a booking for a needless shirt pull on Balotelli inside the centre cirle. He too, will miss Sassuolo's next outing now.
SO CLOSE!! Balotelli almost nets his second of the night as he ducks inside of Gazzola and looses a low effort towards the far corner. A little bit of bend and it might have snuck inside the post, but instead it arrows just the wrong side of it.
The two substitutes combine as Montolivo glides inside and then picks out Pazzini inside the box. He spins and stabs an effort wide of the target but he was in an offside position anyway.
Yellow Card Simone Zaza
Zaza picks up a booking for a trip on Kaka. That will rule him out of Sassuolo's next game.
Milan are struggling to get the ball out of their half here as Sassuolo continue to put them under pressure. Zapata has been lucky to draw a few fould when closed down, but you sense there is still plenty of errors waiting to be drawn out of the Rossoneri.
Two changes from Allegri as Pazzini and Montolivo come in for Cristante and Nocerino. That should add some more quality to both the attack and midfield of the Rossoneri, but I wouldn't plan on anything going as expected tonight.
The delivery finds Ziegler at the back post but the Swiss produces an absolute air shot as he looks to drill the ball back into the area. That was a waste.
Ariaudo is back on the pitch and Sassuolo push forward. Cristante puts in a clumsy challenge on Magnanelli and Sassuolo can ping a free kick into the box from a left-of-centre position.
We have a short break in play as Ariaudo receives medical treatment on the edge of his own box. Time for Milan to dwell on the concession of their fourth goal tonight, then!
ZAZA!! So close! The former Juventus man wants in on the act but his well-executed volley from Chibsah's chipped past arrows wide of the near post. Milan are completely lost here.
Assist Jasmin Kurtić
Goal Domenico Berardi
GOOOOOOAAL! INCREDIBLE, BERARDI HAS FOUR! Sassuolo's first attack of the game sees them put the ball in the back of the net as Berardi guides Kurtic's ball into the bottom the corner via a slight deflection off of Bonera.
Sassuolo get the ball rolling for the second half!
The teams are making their way back out onto the pitch and the second half will begin shortly.
HALF TIME - Sassuolo 3-2 Milan: The Rossoneri raced into a two-goal lead through Robinho and Balotelli but soon collapsed and a marvelous Berardi hat-trick has put the Neroverdi ahead at the interval. Allegri's nightmare season continues, so perhaps the introduction of new signings Rami and Honda will come rather soon.
The referee does not play any added time and blows his whistle for half time.
Berardi ducks inside of Emanuelson and clips a great ball into the box. Zaza attempts to get in front of Zapata to bring it down but the Colombian manages to get enough to it to halt him in his tracks.
Yellow Card Reto Ziegler
Milan's defence has completely collapsed. Bonera and Zapata look vulnerable to practically everything and they will surely get some strong words from Allegri at half time. A catastrophe for the Rossoneri coach.
Assist Alessandro Longhi
Goal Domenico Berardi
GOOOOOOOAL!! BERARDI HAT-TRICK! From being two goals behind, Sassuolo now lead the game! An excellent cross over the top of the defence by Longhi is steered home on the bounce by Berardi. What an unbelievable turnaround here!
A whipped cross from the right by Berardi almost bends into the far corner but Abbiati positioned himself well and plucked the ball down under no pressure.
Gazzola plays the ball inside and then bursts forward down the right. Magnanelli picks him out with a lovely pass but the right-back's cross into the box is dealt with by Zapata. The hosts certainly look like the more dangerous of the two sides now.
Yellow Card Luca Antei
Now Antei goes into the book as he returns the favour to Balotelli, holding the Italy international back as he spins him and attempts to run onto the ball.
Yellow Card Mario Balotelli
So stupid from Balotelli! He lashes out at Antei as the defender pressures him in the centre circle and the Sassuolo man goes to ground. The home fans are calling for a red card, but the referee shows the Milan striker a yellow card.
Super skill from Robinho as he knocks the ball between the legs of Magnanelli and then bears down on goal. He rolls the ball out to Balotelli to his left but the striker failed to keep himself onside. That was just lazy from Super Mario.
It looked sure to be a comfortable night for Milan following those two early goals, and I for one certainly didn't see Sassuolo getting back into this game so soon. It is characteristic of the disastrous season the Rossoneri are currently having and they now find themselves under a lot of pressure from their hosts.
WIDE!! Balotelli manages to work the ball onto his right foot inside the box. He attempts to bend an effort into the far corner but it lacks the whip to bring it back inside the post.
ABBIATI!! Good save! Zaza bends the resultant free kick towards the far corner and the keeper leaps to his right, batting the ball away with his palms.
Yellow Card Daniele Bonera
Awful challenge from Bonera! Chibsah gets one-on-one with the centre-back and knocks the ball past him to race onto it in behind. However, the veteran steps across him to block his route and earns a booking for that cynical challenge.
Goal Domenico Berardi
GOOOOOOAL!! BERARDI DRAWS SASSUOLO LEVEL! Bonera failed to deal with a ball over the top and the forward raced onto the ball in behind. The centre-back blocked his initial effort and after the ball looped into the air, Berardi spun and struck it on the bounce and squeezed a shot in at the near post.
That was a fantastic opportunity for Milan, again on the break, but Balotelli failed to find the man over on the right, Cristante. The young midfielder has been extremely composed so far tonight and is warranting his place in the starting line-up.
Quality defending from Zapata! The Colombian defender stuck close to Zaza, who had done well to control the ball in the box, and stole the ball off the striker's feet and sent his team away down the right.
Almost an incisive counterattack from Milan! Kaka launched it and then raced forward to receive a pass from Cristante 20 yards from goal. He attempted to cushion the ball for Balotelli with his first touch but Ariaudo got in the way. That would certainly have been a memorable goal.
Sassuolo need to look to get Berardi up against Bonera as much as possible tonight. The veteran centre-back lacks the pace to stay close to his counterpart and has looked rather coltish tonight.
That is a needless challenge from Zaza, pushing De Jong to ground as the pair contest a throw in the Sassuolo half. The striker may well still have been frustrated from not being awarded the corner he felt that he had earned just a few moments ago.
It is a poor corner but the ball is lofted straight back in and Balotelli brings it down inside the box. He is swarmed upon by four Neroverdi shirts and is unable to find the space to get away a shot.
Milan switch the play from left to right and De Sciglio attempts to volley a cross into the area. He hits it straight into a Sassuolo shirt but still earns his side a corner.
Goal Domenico Berardi
Assist Jasmin Kurtić
Assist Bryan Cristante
Goal Mario Balotelli
GOOOOOOOAL!! MILAN DOUBLE THEIR LEAD! Cristante made an excellent run down the right and pulled the ball back to Balotelli in space in the box and the Italian did the rest, guiding a shot into the far corner.
Robinho's first Serie A goal in over three months has given Milan the lead in their extremely foggy surroundings. Will the Sassuolo heads drop now given their poor recent form?
Assist Nigel De Jong
GOOOOOOAAL! ROBINHO! The perfect start for Allegri's men. De Jong dispossesses Chibsah 25 yards from goal and then slips a pass into Robinho. He breezes past Antei and then slots the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
A very lively start to the game from Berardi as he beats Bonera to a ball over the top and races into the area. The Milan centre-back eventually gets back into position but Berardi ducks back inside him and lets fly at goal. Once again, though, his effort is straight at the keeper.
Berardi opts to go from goal direct from the free kick but he curls his effort too close to Abbiati and keeper holds the ball comfortably.
That is fairly dramatic fall from Berardi but it has won him a free kick off of the still rather clumsy challenge of Boners. A chance to put this in the box...
Berardi looks to skip past De Jong and race into the box down the right-hand channel but Emanuelson steps across and makes an important challenge to hold the Neroverdi man in his tracks.
Some super work from Kaka sees him take the ball from the right and switch it out to Emanuelson on the left. He picks out De Jong in the centre and he opts to shoot from distance. His effort is on target but it lacks the pace to beat Pegolo and skids comfortably into his hands.
We are underway!
Milan have only been victorious once on their travels this campaign, picking up a total of just seven points from nine away games. Tonight they will have to play without their usual support too, as the club's Ultras have boycotted the game due to excessive ticket prices.
With 38 goals conceded in their 18 Serie A outings this season, Sassuolo have the leakiest defence in the league. They are also one of the lowest scoring sides having found the net on just 17 occasions. The pressure will be on Berardi, Zaza and Ziegler to create, and finish, the chances tonight.
Bryan Cristante, the 18-year-old midfielder, retains his place in the starting line-up following his goal against Atalanta and with Sulley Muntari also unavailable due to suspension. Kevin Constant, Ignazio Abate, Valter Birsa and Stephan El Shaarawy all remain sidelined due to injury.
Milan substitutes: Gabriel, Coppola, Zaccardo, Silvestre, Mexes, Rami, Montolivo, Saponara, Poli, Honda, Matri, Pazzini.
Milan (4-3-1-2): Abbiati; De Sciglio, Bonera, Zapata, Emanuelson; Nocerino, De Jong, Cristante; Kaka; Robinho, Balotelli.
Sassuolo substitutes: Pomini, Pucino, Missiroli, Aladje, Valeri, Rosati, Marzorati, Schelotto, Farias, Floro Flores.
Sassuolo (4-3-3): Pegolo; Gazzola, Antei, Ariaudo, Longhi; Chibsah, Magnanelli, Kurtic; Berardi, Zaza, Ziegler.
There is further reason for optimism in the Rossoneri camp following the signing of Keisuke Honda from CSKA Moscow. The Japanese takes his place on the bench tonight but is expected to make his Milan debut tonight. Full line-ups coming your way shortly.
Eusebio Di Francesco has come under fire following four straight defeats for his Sassuolo side, leaving them third from the bottom in Serie A. During that streak, the Neroverdi have not found the net a single time while conceding a total of eight. Milan are also having a disastrous campaign as they find themselves in the bottom half of the table. They will be keen to take the momentum from last weekend's 3-0 win over Atalanta into tonight's game and earn a positive result.
Hello and welcome to this evening's LIVE play-by-play analysis of the first ever official meeting between Sassuolo and AC Milan. Both sides are under pressure to improve their results and begin climbing the table, so we should be set for an intriguing encounter tonight. My name is Tom Webber and I will be guiding you through the action.
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