Considering how poor AC Milan had been playing up until their match against 18th place Sassuolo, so it presented the perfect opportunity to start gaining ground on the top five in Serie A.
Considering that the Rossoneri were eight points above the relegation zone and 17 behind third place Napoli, it was vital that they beat the Neroverdi to gain confidence. Their defence was expected to get an easy match, as the 2012/13 Serie B champions hadn’t scored in four straight matches.
New signing Keisuke Honda was on the bench, and young starlet Bryan Cristante started in midfield. Nothing was expected to go wrong for the struggling Diavolo.
They got off to a great start when the 18-year-old Cristante and Nigel De Jong broke up play immediately after losing possession. The latter found Robinho making a run into the box, the Brazilian received it, and finished calmly past Gianluca Pegolo for the opening goal.
Four minutes later, the lead doubled. Cristante was once again the focal point. He crossed the ball right to the feet of Mario Balotelli, who made no mistake from point blank range. After 13 minutes, it was 2-0. Sassuolo were sinking without a trace.
That was until the game resumed. Jasmin Kurtic slowed down his forward burst, picked out Domenico Berardi, who exhibited a brilliant first touch, then finished with complete composure to give the Neroverdi some life.
Just before the half hour mark, they pulled level. Berardi was the scorer once again. He was causing Daniele Bonera all kinds of problems throughout the first half, it finally paid off. He managed to fend off the defender, then half volleyed the ball whilst falling, and scored inside the near post, catching Christian Abbiati by surprise.
The comeback was complete in the 41st minute. Guess who? It was Berardi again, grabbing his hat-trick. Alessandro Longhi provided the long cross, which ended up at the foot of the 19-year-old striker, which found its way past Abbiati. Nearly 30 minutes prior, Sassuolo appeared to be down in the dumps.
As the second half began, many expected Milan to peg the hosts again and attain at least a draw. That wasn’t the case. In fact, Berardi became the first 19-year-old since 1994/95 to score four goals in a single Serie A match. He was also the first to accomplish that feat against AC Milan. If many wondered if he has a future with Juventus, his parent club, their questions were answered on Sunday.
As for Milan, that loss led to the sacking of Massimiliano Allegri on Monday. Clarence Seedorf announced his retirement 24 hours later and his subsequent decision to coach the Rossoneri, which has been reported for about a year. Now it’s a reality, as he’s been given the task of saving this club from disaster.
Watch the highlights here:
Other Talking Points
- Roma bounced back from their depressing 3-0 defeat to Juventus by crushing Genoa 4-0 at home. Alessandro Florenzi scored a goal of the season candidate, which you can see here.
- Juventus thrashed Cagliari 4-1 to maintain their eight point lead at the top of the league. Fernando Llorente earned a brace. He now has seven goals in 12 starts in Serie A.
- Napoli stomped Hellas Verona 3-0 at the Bentegodi on Sunday. They’re just the second team to win in Verona all season. That’s still quite the accomplishment for a team who was promoted for the first time in over a decade.
- Inter drew Chievo 1-1 on Monday. They’re now fifth, ten points adrift of the top three.
- Fiorentina’s first match without Giuseppe Rossi didn’t go as planned, they drew 0-0 against Torino on Sunday afternoon. They’re going to have to get used to it for another couple of months.
- Three red cards were given out in Sampdoria’s 3-0 win over Udinese. Two players for the Zebrette were sent off, leading to their crushing defeat.
Livorno 0-3 Parma; Bologna 0-0 Lazio; Atalanta 2-1 Catania