The draw does little for both sides as both Cristian Brocchi and Roberto Stellone will praise and criticise elements of their side’s play as Milan look to Europe and Frosinone try to avoid the drop
For both sides, three points was required but neither was able to secure them in an entertaining 3-3 draw at the San Siro. Frosinone will be frustrated as they were unable to get all three points after conceding a penalty late on, and that means that the Canarini are now four points behind 18th-placed Palermo and 17th-placed Carpi with two games to go. Milan, however, were leapfrogged by Sassuolo as they beat Hellas Verona 1-0 to jump up to 6th, the final Europa League position should Juventus win the Coppa Italia.
Milan were without arguably their best player so far this season in Giacomo Bonaventura as he missed out with a hamstring injury. Instead, Keisuke Honda came in to play the trequartista role. Alex returned to the defence after missing the loss at Verona as Milan looked very sloppy at the back. José Mauri retained his spot in the line-up as Cristian Brocchi continued a 4-3-1-2 system. For Frosinone, they made five changes from the side that lost 2-0 against Palermo. In the back five, Adriano Russo was the only survivor as Inter Milan loanee Francesco Bardi came in to make his debut due to Nicola Leali being out with flu, while Matteo Ciofani, Arlind Ajeti and Roberto Crivello also came into the defence for Aleandro Rosi, Leonardo Blanchard and Daniel Pavlović. In midfield, Oliver Kragl dropped back and Federico Dionisi returned up top.
The first half got off to an electric start. Just after one minute, Luca Paganini gave the Canarini the lead with an audacious shot from just outside the area. Juraj Kucka lost the ball and then Frosinone shifted the ball from the left to the centre where Paganini fired through Mattia De Sciglio’s legs and past Gianluigi Donnarumma. Milan then dominated the ball and Carlos Bacca had two good opportunities to score, but was thwarted by some resolute defending by first Paolo Sammarco and second Matteo Ciofani. Francesco Bardi, making his debut in goal, also made a series of saves to further frustrate the Rossoneri. Then, one minute before half-time, Frosinone doubled their lead against the run of play. They were awarded a free-kick forty yards out and Oliver Kragl stepped up. Rather than put in a cross, he unleashed a rocket that moved and dipped into the bottom corner of Donnarumma’s goal to leave Cristian Brocchi shocked. Unbelievably, that was Kragl’s first goal of the season.
The second half began just as frantically as the first. Ninety seconds after the start of the half, Milan were awarded a penalty. Mattia De Sciglio tried a shot from outside the box that hit Antonio Russo’s hand. Despite no real appeal from the Milan players, the referee gave it. Mario Balotelli stepped up and, after a stutter in his run-up, his penalty was saved by Bardi. Two minutes later, Milan got a goal back after a mistake by the Frosinone goalkeeper. Keisuke Honda played an excellent ball to Ignazio Abate who then fired a cross into the near post area, but it hit the post, came off of Bardi and fell to Carlos Bacca to tap in from a yard out to score his 16th goal of the season.
Four minutes later, Frosinone re-established their two goal lead as Federico Dionisi got his ninth goal of the season. Alex failed to clear a simple ball and Dionisi, who had to option to square the ball to Paganini, had the confidence to go across Donnarumma and make it 3-1. In the 73rd minute Luca Antonelli came on for Abate, and a minute later he made it 3-2. After Alex headed a corner back into the six-yard box, Antonelli, with his first contribution, chested the ball and fired an unbelievable overhead kick past Bardi. With 13 minutes to go, Cristian Brocchi went all-out attack as, after already bringing on Luiz Adriano for Keisuke Honda, he brought on Jérémy Menez for José Mauri as Milan switched to a 4-2-4. Then, in the last few seconds of the 90 minutes, Milan were awarded a second penalty in the half after Vasyl Pryima, a second half substitute, handballed Balotelli’s goal-bound shot. After missing the first penalty, Balotelli stepped aside and led Menez take it, and he coolly put it in the bottom corner to make the game level for the first time since the first minute of the game. Milan could have won it with the last kick of the game as Balotelli ran at Russo and unleashed a shot that cannoned back out off of the crossbar, but ultimately that would have been very harsh on the Canarini.
Milan going behind so early, especially in a half-empty San Siro, appeared to really damage the Rossoneri’s confidence. It took a while for Brocchi’s men to get back into the game, but once they did they were dominating the ball and creating a few chances of their own. When the Kragl goal came however, it felt like that would be the killer blow. After half-time Milan came out with a much higher intensity in which they won a penalty and scored a goal. Those lapses in concentration remained, however, as Alex switched off for a second and Dionisi made it 3-1 to Frosinone. Brocchi should be praised, though, for his changes as Milan switched from a 4-3-1-2 system to a 4-2-4 formation for the final stages of the game, and that ultimately led to the equaliser and potential winner. Roberto Stellone, on the other hand, would have taken a point before kick-off but, after being 3-1 ahead in the 54th minute, would have surely thought that his players could see the game out. Although it wasn’t to be, he can still be proud of his players; he will just be hoping that Menez’s late goal will not be too demoralising for his players’ confidence.
Next up for Frosinone in their fight against the drop is the visit of Sassuolo to the Stadio Matusa. The Canarini are now four points below Palermo and Carpi and it looks like a long shot that they will stay up now, but Stellone will be making sure his players go out and put 100% effort in. Milan face a tricky trip to Bologna as they will now hope that their opponent’s from this weekend will do them a favour and take points off of the Neroverdi, the side that just leapfrogged the Rossoneri into 6th. With one win, two draws and a loss from Brocchi’s opening four games, a win at Bologna is needed if Milan are to not face a third successive year without European football.