Serie A leaders Milan fell to a shock 2-0 defeat away to Spezia on Saturday evening, inviting city rivals Inter to take top spot in the league with victory against Lazio on Sunday.
It was the hosts who started the game on the front foot and forced Milan into defending their own box for the first 10 minutes. Spezia enjoyed possession and came close from a corner through Riccardo Saponara after 13 minutes, but couldn't make good on the dominance. Neither side possessed the quality to grab a hold of the game in a dull and goalless first half, however.
The Rossoneri failed to pick it up after the break and were eventually punished by Spezia who took a somewhat deserved lead after 56 minutes through Giulio Maggiore. Stefano Pioli made a triple substitution on the hour mark in order to switch things up, but Spezia doubled their lead after 67 minutes thanks to a thunderous strike from Simone Bastoni.
The substitutes wielded little change in fortune for Milan who were simply second best in every area of the pitch, failing to dominate in midfield or create any chances for strikers from wide areas. Spezia were well drilled, clinical and organised from front to back as they comfortably saw out the game for three points.
Milan must improve quickly with a likely season-defining clash with Inter up next for them in Serie A.
1. Goalkeeper & Defenders
Gianluigi Donnarumma (GK) - 6/10 - Was out quick and made himself big to deny Saponara in the chance of the first half. Had no chance of saving either goal though.
Diogo Dalot (RB) - 4/10 - Poor performance for Dalot who continually gave the ball away cheaply when trying to move his side forward. Lost his man in the build to Spezia's opener and conceded the free-kick resulting in the second.
Simon Kjaer (CB) - 6/10 - Marshalled the defence on his return to the XI and was key in riding out an early storm from Spezia. Positionally aware, but was lacking match sharpness on his return to the side and was subbed after an hour.
Alessio Romagnoli (CB) - 6/10 - Caught once or twice positionally, but looked at ease once again next to his regular centre back partner.
Theo Hernandez (LB) - 5/10 - The Frenchman wasn't at his usual, explosive best down the left flank. Barely broke forward and lacked the service to create anything or provide any crosses to question the defence.
Franck Kessie (DM) - 5/10 - Unusually quiet performance from Kessie who was a passenger in the game. Didn't influence it enough as he so often has done this season from the base of midfield. A bad day at the office.
Ismael Bennacer (DM) - 4/10 - The lack of match sharpness was evident from Bennacer who failed to hit full stride. Too long on the ball, a few uncharacteristic wayward passes and failed to track his man which allowed Spezia to make it 1-0.
Alexis Saelemaekers (RW) - 4/10 - The game passed Saelemaekers by completely. Failed to assert himself in possession and didn't offer too much defensively, either.
Hakan Calhanoglu (AM) - 4/10 - Barely saw the ball throughout, but spurned his opportunities when he did. Calhanoglu was also clearly rusty and is actively trying to get back up to speed.
Rafael Leao (LW) - 5/10 - Worked hard to try and fashion an opening for his side in the first half and made one or two teasing runs, but that was about it. Hooked on the hour in favour of Mario Mandzukic.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (ST) - 5/10 - Ibrahimovic suffered severely from a lack of service throughout the first half and had zero chance to make an impact. The talisman managed just one shot at goal all evening.
Soualiho Meite - 6/10 - Provided one or two impressive passes through the lines, but Meite wasn't able to solve Milan's authority issues in midfield.
Mario Mandzukic - 5/10 - The Croatian pushed into a central position, but had no luck in finding a goal, heading wide from a free-kick in injury time.
Fikayo Tomori - 6/10 - Aggressive and keen to impress in the half an hour or so he was afforded, Tomori provided the enthusiasm that Milan lacked from the off. Too little, too late.
Jens Petter Hauge - N/A
Samuel Castillejo - N/A