AC Milan 3-1 Hellas Verona: Leao sends visitors to relegation play-off
AC Milan signed off the Serie A season with a 3-1 victory as Rafael Leao's double condemned Hellas Verona to a relegation play-off with Spezia.
The Rossoneri wrapped up a frustrating campaign on a winning note at San Siro, with a late Leao brace enough to seal three points.
Milan had already secured Champions League football for another term but struggled at times against the visitors, who cancelled out Olivier Giroud's first-half penalty through Marco Faraoni's 72nd-minute strike.
Yet Leao struck in the 85th minute and again seven minutes later, leaving Verona to face a relegation decider with Spezia, who succumbed to a late 2-1 loss at Roma.
Despite the gravity of Verona's situation, they struggled to impose even the barest threat in what was an inconsequential season-closer for Milan, who had already secured a top-four finish.
The hosts seldom had to get out of first gear to neutralise their visitors, producing a largely sedate performance of their own before striking first on the stroke of half-time.
The VAR awarded a penalty for a Cyril Ngonge foul on Brahim Diaz, with Giroud ruthlessly dispatching from 12 yards.
Verona dragged themselves back into it with just over a quarter-hour to play when Faraoni headed home Darko Lazovic's delivery.
Any hopes of a reprieve through a relegation play-off looked to be dashed when Leao drove home a low 20-yard strike to regain Milan's lead and drop Verona back into 18th.
Leao added a second in injury time with a close-range finish, but Verona were handed their play-off lifeline as Paulo Dybala's penalty snatched a dramatic late win for Roma over Spezia.
What does it mean? Milan end on high
After last year's title-winning campaign, hopes had been high for a successful defence this term at San Siro, particularly with rivals Inter breathing down their necks.
Instead, Milan wilted, ultimately making the top four after Juventus were handed a points deduction. In this final game though, they gave themselves something to smile about.
Giroud delights in home comforts
It has been a strong season yet again for the veteran forward, who added another goal to his tally with Milan's opener.
It was his 11th on home turf in Serie A this term, making him one of three players alongside Victor Osimhen and Lautaro Martinez (both 12) to net more than 10 at their own ground.
Verona lose it late again
No other side has quite choked in the final stages of Serie A games this term like the visitors and they did so again here.
Leao's injury-time strike was the 11th occasion they have conceded after the 90th minute in games this season.
Key Opta facts:
- Milan have earned 43 points at home in a Serie A season for the first time since the 2010-11 term, under Massimiliano Allegri.
- Leao has been involved in five goals in Serie A against Verona (two goals and three assists), his joint most against a single opponent in the competition.
- Verona's 31 points in Serie A is their lowest top-flight total since they managed 25 points in 2017-18.
- Giroud has scored 13 goals in a single season in the top five European leagues for the first time since 2015-16 campaign, when he scored 16.
- Verona did not fire a single shot during the first half of a Serie A match for the first time since December 2021, against Torino.
Milan sail off into the off-season looking to build for another title challenge next term but Verona will meet Spezia to determine which of them remains in Serie A.