Soccer-Milan send Verona into relegation playoff as Ibra retires

MILAN (Reuters) -Hellas Verona will face Spezia in a Serie A relegation playoff after losing 3-1 at fourth-placed AC Milan on Sunday as Rafael Leao's double and an Olivier Giroud penalty secured the points before Zlatan Ibrahimovic announced his retirement.

Verona and Spezia, who lost 2-1 at AS Roma, finished the season with 31 points and now face a playoff, which has been introduced this season, to decide who stays up.

"We played a good game but in the end, we could not stop Leao. We must restart and prepare for a fundamental game,” Verona manager Marco Zaffaroni said.

"There will be emotional aspects to take into account but we want to go all the way. Where will the game be played? We still haven’t talked about it. We were only focused on this game. Now, we are ready for all the updates."

Milan secured qualification for a third straight Champions League campaign but failed to win a trophy after being knocked out in the semi-finals of Europe's elite competition and Coppa Italia last 16 after losing the Italian Supercup to Inter Milan.

Stefano Pioli fielded the same side that won 1-0 against Juventus on May 28. Ismael Bennacer and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were both unavailable due to injury, with the 41-year-old Swede watching on before announcing his retirement from football.

Giroud put the hosts ahead in first-half stoppage time, after Cyril Ngonge brought down Brahim Diaz, before the visitors equalised in the 72nd through Davide Faraoni.

Leao capped off the season in style after two goals in quick succession starting with a long-range strike in the 85th minute before wrapping up the win two minutes into stoppage time.

Alexis Saelemaekers came close to scoring a fourth for Milan near the end but his shot curled just over the bar.

After the match, as Milan started preparations to celebrate with Ibrahimovic, the Verona players gathered to follow Spezia's match which had an astonishing 14 minutes of stoppage time.

(Reporting by Tommy Lund in Gdansk; Editing by Ken Ferris and Stephen Coates)

Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!

Next In Football

Soccer-Canada look to deliver Jamaica knockout punch and book Olympic ticket
Soccer-Tigres president killed after Colombian team's home loss
Soccer-Spain's women players ready to stick to football after ending boycott, says Bonmati
Soccer-Abandoned Ajax v Feyenoord match set to resume on Wednesday
Cup competitions are City Boys’ cup of tea
Soccer-PSG should take action over homophobic chants says French Sports Minister
Soccer-Juve's Allegri sticks with Szczesny despite costly mistakes
Soccer-Pochettino says Chelsea must 'grow up like a team'
Soccer-Nunez has taken 'massive steps', says Liverpool's Klopp
Soccer-Newcastle hungry for goals and success, says Howe after 8-0 win

Others Also Read