Stadio Renato Dall’Ara, Serie A – Bologna 2 (Ibrahimovic 49′(o.g.)M. Barrow 52′) AC Milan 4 (R. Leão 16’D. Calabria 35’I. Bennacer 84′, Ibrahimovic)
By Our Sports Desk
It was an incredible display of determination and resilience, but Bologna finally caved to AC Milan 4-2 at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara.
Reduced to nine men and 2-0 down inside 35 minutes, the Rossonblu came roaring back in an early three-minute flurry at the start of the second half thinking that they had snatched an unlikely point, but Milan had other ideas as they ramped up the pressure on the depleted hosts.
Initial goals from Rafael Leao and Davide Calabria set Milan off to what they thought would be yet another comfortable victory over Bologna, but the home side had other ideas, with an own goal off Zlatan Ibrahimovic of all people and a wonderful counter-attacking move that was capped off by Musa Barrow.
In a match where nothing went their way – Adama Soumaoro sent off on 22 minutes as the last man for a foul on Rade Krunic, and captain Roberto Soriano also dismissed for a horror challenge on Fode Ballo-Toure – Bologna defended resolutely and staunchly, with the home crowd cheering them on in full voice till the very end as they sought to upset the balance in the preliminary stages of Serie A’s title race.
On 16 minutes, Leao struck through a cruel deflection off Chilean veteran Gary Medel, and Calabria would smash home via another deflection off Nicolas Dominguez; the full-back’s strike beating the Argentine for pure pace as it crashed into the net.
Barrow’s whipped corner skimmed off the top of Ibrahimovic’s head not long after the restart to give the hosts hope, and a beautiful counter-attack in the transitional phase, sculpted by Marko Arnautovic and Roberto Soriano, was finished aptly by the Gambian forward, who scored his fourth goal in as many games.
Milan kept on coming – they were banging on the door for half an hour – and at last Ismael Bennacer fired an arrow deep into the hearts of Bologna; the arrow landed in the bullseye; the bottom corner, and the resistance was finally broken.
Ibrahimovic made late amends for putting through his own net by re-doubling the visitors’ cushion late on. He profited from a wonderful Bennacer drive and pass, and the Swede did the rest as he calmly guided the ball past Lukasz Skorupski.
The cliche is that football is a cruel mistress, and Bologna will be reeling from this tonight, as Milan sit pretty at the top of the table: for now, at least.