Last-gasp Kessie penalty rescues draw for AC Milan against Udinese


Soccer Football - Serie A - AC Milan v Udinese - San Siro, Milan, Italy - March 3, 2021 AC Milan's Rafael Leao in action with Udinese's Rodrigo Becao REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

MILAN (Reuters) - AC Milan's Franck Kessie scored a penalty with the last kick of the game to rescue a 1-1 draw against Udinese on Wednesday, a result that hands Inter Milan a big opportunity to stretch their lead in the Serie A title race.

Milan struggled to find a way through a resolute defence in the absence of injured top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma made a costly error at the other end when Rodrigo Becao’s looping header after 68 minutes sneaked past him.

But Udinese wing back Jens Stryger Larsen’s flailing arm struck the ball inside the box deep in stoppage time to give Kessie the chance to convert a penalty clocked at 96 minutes and 20 seconds, Milan’s latest goal since April 2017.

"It’s two points dropped, but there are a lot of games to go," Kessie told DAZN.

"We need to raise our game because we didn’t do well. We should have managed possession better, because they were camped behind the ball.

"A game like this can happen, but we need to lift our heads back up now because we’re playing every three days.”

Milan have picked up four points from their last four league games and leaders Inter now have the chance to go six points clear at the top of the table by beating relegation battling Parma on Thursday.

Milan are second with 53 points, while Udinese are 11th with 29 points.

Milan showed signs of a return to form with an impressive 2-1 win away to AS Roma on Sunday, but star striker Ibrahimovic and playmaker Hakan Calhanoglu picked up injuries in that game and their absence was felt against Luca Gotti’s well-drilled side.

Winger Samu Castillejo's shot was saved by the foot of Juan Musso in the best chance of a first half lacking quality.

Milan captain Alessio Romagnoli was called into action to clear Ilija Nestorovski’s header off the line after the break, but Udinese went ahead when Becao’s header found a way past Donnarumma, who appeared to anticipate the ball taking another touch before it was too late and squeezed under him.

Stryger Larsen undid Udinese’s hard defensive work in the final minute of added time with a blatant handball, and Kessie remained composed to convert the resulting spot kick.

(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; Editing by Toby Davis)

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