Kessie penalty rescues draw for AC Milan against Udinese

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Kessie penalty rescues draw for AC Milan against Udinese

AC Milan’s Franck Kessie scored a penalty with the last kick of the game to rescue a 1-1 draw against Udinese on Wednesday, a result that hands Internazionale a big opportunity to gain ground in the Serie A title race.

Milan struggled to find a way through a resolute defence in the absence of injured top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma made a costly error at the other end when Rodrigo Becao’s looping header after 68 minutes snuck past him.

But Udinese wing-back Jens Stryger Larsen’s flailing arm struck the ball inside the box deep in stoppage time to give Kessie the chance to earn a point for the hosts from the spot.

“It’s two points dropped, but there are a lot of games to go,” Kessie said after the match. “We need to raise our game because we didn’t do well. We should have managed possession better, because they were camped behind the ball.

“A game like this can happen, but we need to lift our heads back up now because we’re playing every three days.”

AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli admitted that the missed the presence of a natural striker like Ibrahimovic. Ibrahimovic picked up a muscular problem during Sunday’s 2-1 win over AS Roma that ruled him out of the clash, while Mario Mandzukic was also unavailable through injury.

Pioli therefore chose to play 21-year-old winger Rafael Leao through the middle, but the coach was left unimpressed by the performance of the Portuguese.

“I always expect a lot from my players. Rafa’s characteristics are more adapted to attacking spaces,” Pioli told DAZN.

“He doesn’t have the craftiness yet to anticipate the defender when he comes up against defences that are as closed as this.

“Today we were missing the right characteristics to take on this type of match, we were missing the two true strikers in our squad. Leao and [winger Ante] Rebic have other characteristics.”

Milan have picked up four points from their last four league games and leaders Inter now have the chance to go six points clear at the top of the table by beating relegation battling Parma on Thursday.

Milan are second with 53 points, while Udinese are 11th place with 29 points.