AC Milan fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at US Citta di Palermo in Serie A on Tuesday after young striker Stephan El Shaarawy again came to the Rossoneri’s rescue.
El Shaarawy scored his seventh league goal of the season 10 minutes from time to prevent Milan from slipping to their sixth loss of the campaign.
Fabrizio Miccoli had put Palermo in front from the penalty spot on the stroke of halftime following a handball by Ignazio Abate. Franco Brienza doubled the team’s lead less than two minutes after the break.
However, Riccardo Montolivo grabbed one back in the 69th minute as Milan started to dominate.
“It’s the first time we’ve managed to come back,” Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “In the second half, we created a lot and made very few mistakes with the last ball. Even though we played awfully in the first half, we could have avoided the penalty. Then the lads did well and we deserved to draw. We had a brilliant second half.”
El Shaarawy, who also scored the only goal of the game on his 20th birthday against Genoa at the weekend, completed Milan’s spirited comeback. He is currently Serie A’s leading goalscorer ahead of the rest of the midweek matches.
Palermo remain the only team in Serie A to have won just one game so far this season.
“We stopped after we went 2-0 up,” Palermo coach Gianpiero Gasperini said. “Instead of continuing to pressure them, we stopped at the edge of the area without defending or playing. We were too passive. We threw away a great opportunity, we played well in the first half and at the beginning of the second half, and we had the opportunity to continue, thanks to the space we had. The few times we got the ball back, we struggled to get going. We became a bit scared. We must understand that matches finish after 90 minutes or 95, we have lost too many points in the final minutes.”
Palermo had lost only one of their past seven matches against Milan at the Stadio Renzo Barbera and they were the better team at the start.
Brienza almost had a great early chance, but he was squeezed out by the Milan defense.
Seconds later Alexandre Pato — who is not yet back to his best after eight months out with injuries — spun well, but had the ball snatched from his feet by Palermo’s Edgar Barreto, just as the Brazilian was about to let fly.
Miccoli then sent a shot just wide of the left post, before firing a fierce long-range free-kick straight at Milan goalkeeper Marco Amelia.
Miccoli had another good chance in the 26th minute when Milan midfielder Kevin Constant set him up perfectly, but he saw his effort skim the top of the crossbar.
The Palermo captain again went close with another free-kick which went a whisker wide with Amelia beaten.
The home side took a deserved lead when Miccoli’s cross hit Abate on the arm at point-blank range, just inside the area.
The penalty decision was harsh as it was doubtful Abate had handled intentionally, but Miccoli stepped up to fire a perfectly placed spot-kick into the bottom-left corner which Amelia could do nothing about, despite diving the right way.
It was Miccoli’s 99th goal in Serie A.
Palermo doubled their lead when Brienza found himself in acres of space just outside the box and he fired a stunning strike into the far-right corner with Amelia rooted to the spot.
Milan finally started playing and substitute Bojan Krkic almost pulled one back when he went on a mazy run and beat two defenders, before drawing a fine save from Palermo goalkeeper Samir Ujkani.
Ujkani did even better to keep out Urby Emanuelson’s curling free-kick, but Milan grabbed one back when Bojan drew several Palermo defenders to him, before crossing to the other side of the area for an unmarked Montolivo to smash into the bottom-left corner.
The Rossoneri completed the comeback when Ujkani palmed Abate’s shot to El Shaarawy, who swiveled and turned it in at the near post from a tight angle.