Bologna 2-4 AC Milan: Bennacer and Ibrahimovic strike late
AC Milan moved to the Serie A summit as Ismael Bennacer and Zlatan Ibrahimovic struck late to hand them a pulsating 4-2 win over nine-man Bologna.
Rafael Leao and Davide Calabria scored either side of Adama Soumaoro's dismissal to give the Rossoneri a healthy advantage at the interval.
That was wiped out in the space of seven minutes at the start of the second period, however, with an Ibrahimovic own goal and a Musa Barrow strike restoring parity at the Stadio Renato Dall'Ara.
Bologna had a second man sent off before the hour mark, Roberto Soriano given a straight red card for a late challenge, and Stefano Pioli's Milan landed a memorable three points thanks to fine late strikes from Bennacer and Ibrahimovic.
Leao put Milan ahead in the 16th minute with a deflected strike, before Soumaoro was shown a red card for bringing down a clean-through Rade Krunic just outside the area four minutes later.
Milan took advantage of their numerical superiority in the 35th minute, Calabria lashing home a second from 15 yards.
The hosts stormed back at the start of the second period, though, with Ibrahimovic – making his first start since May 9 – heading into his own net four minutes after the interval to give Sinisa Mihajlovic's side hope.
Barrow then remarkably drew Bologna level in the 52nd minute, slotting past Ciprian Tatarusanu after being played in by Soriano.
Rossoblu captain Soriano was then given his marching orders after a VAR review six minutes later for an ugly challenge on Fode Ballo-Toure.
The hosts held firm until the 84th minute when Bennacer powered into the bottom-left corner from 20 yards, while Ibrahimovic added gloss to the scoreline with a whipped finish from the same distance six minutes later.
What does it mean? Domestic bliss for Rossoneri
They made it significantly harder than it needed to be, but Pioli's side can celebrate moving to the Serie A summit after an 11th win in 12 games over Bologna.
Victory means this is only the second time they have won eight of their first nine matches in a Serie A season, the Rossoneri last doing so in 1954-55 – a season in which they won the title.
Ibrahimovic was certainly in the thick of things during his first start this season. His tepid attempt at a clearance resulted in an own goal to kickstart Bologna’s fightback, but he made amends late on with a sumptuous strike that saw him become the fourth-oldest scorer in Serie A history, aged 40 years and 20 days.
Samu Castillejo endured a difficult first Serie A start of the season. The Spaniard was withdrawn at half-time through injury and offered little during his time on the pitch, taking just one shot and failing to play a single key pass.
Key Opta facts
- Bologna have received four red cards in Serie A this season, no team have had more in the big five European leagues this term (four also for Lyon).
- Milan have equalled their record of away wins in a single calendar year in Serie A: 14, as in 1964.
- Ibrahimovic (40 years, 20 days) is the second player to have delivered an assist in Serie A at 40 years of age since 2004/05. The first was Francesco Totti (40 years, 145 days v Torino in 2017). The Swedish player has also become the oldest ever to score an own goal in the competition.
- Prior to Ibrahimovic, the last player to have scored a goal, an own goal and delivered an assist in a Serie A match was Bruno Alves, in March 2019 against Empoli with Parma.
- Barrow has been involved in five Serie A goals (three goals, two assists) since the start of October, at least two more than any other player in the period.
- In only seven league appearances this season, Calabria has already equalled the tally of goals he scored in Serie A last term (two in 32 games).
- Bennacer has scored two Serie A goals, both against Bologna (the previous one in July 2020).
- Pioli has now managed Milan in 100 games across all competitions: he has won 56 matches so far, exactly as many as Massimiliano Allegri recorded with the Rossoneri after the same tally of games.
Milan host Torino at San Siro on Tuesday, while Bologna travel on Thursday to Napoli, who can reclaim top spot from Milan with victory over Roma on Sunday.