AC Milan draw with Empoli


Fernando Torres scored his first goal for AC Milan but the Serie A giants could do no more than force a 2-2 draw at newly-promoted Empoli. The on-loan Chelsea striker, who appeared as a substitute in Saturday's home defeat to Juventus was trusted from the off in Tuscany, yet it was Empoli's Lorenzo Tonelli who drew first blood. The Azzurri took a two-goal lead through Manuel Pucciarelli before Torres opened his account in Rossonero colours with a glancing header shortly before the break. Keisuke Honda levelled the match with a second-half daisy-cutter but, even though Empoli were reduced to 10 men thanks to Mirko Valdifiori's antics, Milan could not produce a late winner. Needless to say big things are expected of World Cup winner Torres at San Siro and so it seemed the Stadio Carlo Castellani might represent a less-pressurised venue for his full debut. Inside 10 minutes he sent Jeremy Menez through on goal and collected a cross from Daniele Bonera in a dangerous position before the Empoli defence cleared. The Tuscans took a surprise lead in the 13th minute. All eyes had been on the Rossoneri but, from the movement that followed a corner, Tonelli wriggled away from Bonera's loose marking to power home a header. From that point forward Empoli ran riot and might have scored twice more before 20 minutes had passed. Pucciarelli forced Christian Abbiati into a desperate stop before Matias Vecino stung the Milan goalkeeper's fingertips with a searing volley. They would score again on 21 minutes, Francesco Tavano slipping the ball into the path of Pucciarelli, who beat Abbiati with relative ease. Milan dropped deep to avoid further embarrassment and slowly recovered from their shell-shock. Shortly after the half-hour mark Honda produced their first shot on target thanks to a cute pass from Menez and Giacomo Bonaventura soon fired a daisy-cutter into Luigi Sepe's gloves. It fell to Torres to ease the rising pressure and send the visitors in at the break in a brighter mood as he opened his account for Milan. Ignazio Abate's cross arrived from the right wing and Torres sprang into the air to connect with the ball and send it home in a high looped arc over Sepe's head. Rather than chase their second goal at the earliest opportunity Milan played a patient game following the restart and, after surviving a close call when Tavano came knocking, they got their reward. Two minutes before the hour, Honda created space for himself on the edge of the box, switched the ball onto his preferred left boot before driving along the grass and into the bottom corner. Milan's tails were up and Torres soon picked out the onrushing Menez. The former Paris St Germain schemer looked up before crashing his attempt into the crossbar. The increasingly lively Torres went close again in the 64th minute, his angled attempt scooting across the six-yard box and going just wide. Milan kept pushing and were unlucky not to take the lead through Honda, whose free-kick beat the wall but also the far post with Sepe rooted to the spot. In truth either side might have nicked a late winner. First, veteran striker Massimo Maccarone was mere inches away from connecting with Simone Verdi's pass into the box with six minutes remaining. Then, after Valdifiori collected two yellow cards in quick succession to see red amid the final exchanges, Honda nodded just wide of the mark after Mattia De Sciglio had rattled the crossbar.