It was a match that promised fans so much; a clash between two of the top Serie A teams in front of a passionate crowd.
And the 73,000 fans that roared their support were not disappointed when the home team snatched a 1-0 lead after just 7 minutes, and then controlled the game until well into the second half when Lazio struck back to fight out a grafting 1 -1 draw.
The game started brightly for AC Milan, playing with controlled determination and coveting possession with crisp incisive passes. Lazio appeared numbed by the way the home team switched the point of their attack in the early stages and were unable to adjust.
The goal came after an intelligent midfield build up, followed by an incisive long ball that suddenly unleashed an AC Milan winger in behind the defense. The winger jostled for possession and shouldered the Lazio defender off the ball. When the Milan winger looked up, he saw striker, Gianluca Lapadula, ghosting into the penalty box. The winger drove towards the byline and then cut the ball back across the 6 yard box. There was nothing Lazio could do to recover their position. Lapadula tapped the ball past the keeper from close range.
Shouldered off the ball, the Lazio defender can only watch in anguish as the AC Milan winger cuts the ball inside for Lapadula to tap home an easy goal.
The rest of the first half was a dour struggle in the midfield. Lazio recovered their composure after the early setback and fought hard to create space… but AC Milan were structured and equal to each new threat.
At half-time the score was 1-0 to the home team.
The second half began much the same way as the first stanza of play had ended; Lazio were probing for an equalizer and AC Milan were grim in defense. The visitors began to explore the wide spaces on both wings, and had several opportunities to stretch the AC Milan formation. Only poor touches and fierce tackling from the home team thwarted each new Lazio surge forward.
Finally, in the 55th minute, an individual moment of genius from Lazio’s Keita tore the AC Milan defensive line apart. It was only the cat-like reflexes of the home team’s keeper who prevented a shot on goal with a diving save at the feet of the Lazio striker before he could unleash as strike.
Top to bottom: Twisting and jinking, Keita turns the AC Milan defense inside out with a dazzling run into the box. Only a brave diving save from the keeper prevents Lazio from netting an equalizer
The flash of brilliance seemed to spark Lazio to greater effort. Suddenly AC Milan looked tired and lethargic. Five minutes later a defensive lapse from a Lazio throw-in saw a quick pass infield that found Keita again, this time unmarked in a dangerous area of the field.
The striker latched onto the pass and dashed towards the goal. In a desperate and callous tackle, he was brought down inside the box by an AC Milan defender, and from the subsequent penalty, Keita made no mistake to level the score at 1-1.
Penalty! The Lazio striker is brought down from behind as he breaks into the box.
The equalizer should have set the match up for a thrilling finish, but while the closing thirty minutes were filled with tension and desperation, neither side could manufacture a telling chance on goal. Lazio packed their defense in the hope of catching AC Milan on the counter, while the home team poured more men forward in search for the winner.
Ultimately the fans at San Siro stadium went home a little disappointed not to register a home-side win.