Soccer-Milan draw 3-3 with Salernitana in Giroud, Pioli farewell

Soccer Football - Serie A - AC Milan v Salernitana - San Siro, Milan, Italy - May 25, 2024 AC Milan's Olivier Giroud celebrates scoring their second goal REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo

MILAN (Reuters) -AC Milan ended their Serie A campaign with a disappointing 3-3 home draw against relegated Salernitana on Saturday in what was the last game at the club for coach Stefano Pioli and striker Olivier Giroud.

Rafael Leao and Giroud put Milan 2-0 up at the break, but Salernitana pulled a goal back through forward Simeon Nwankwo in the second half before Davide Calabria restored the hosts' two-goal lead with a header.

Yet Salernitana's Junior Sambia and Nwankwo levelled with two quick-fire goals in the dying moments.

The Milan fans said goodbye to manager Pioli, who is leaving the club after five years following a disappointing season.

He led the Rossoneri to their first league title in over a decade in 2022 but they have struggled to challenge since and finished second this season on 75 points, 18 points behind Inter Milan who visit Hellas Verona for their final game on Sunday.

The seven-times European champions bowed out of the Champions League in the group stage earlier this season before getting knocked out of the Europa League by AS Roma in the quarter-finals.

"We lost together, we suffered together, we won and rejoiced together... You have an energy that we tried to put on the field," Pioli said as he thanked the fans during his speech on the pitch after the game.

"You put a fire in my heart and it will always remain lit. I will not forget you."

Pioli has the fourth-most Serie A wins of any Milan manager (108), behind Carlo Ancelotti (163), Nereo Rocco (120) and Fabio Capello (110).

The hosts made a promising start when Rafael Leao gave them the lead with a simple finish from close range in the 22nd minute after capitalising on an error by Salernitana goalkeeper Vincenzo Fiorillo.

The Portuguese ran to embrace Pioli after scoring and other players joined the 24-year-old around the departing coach.

Giroud doubled the advantage five minutes later, volleying home from an Alessandro Florenzi corner.

The Frenchman, who will join Major League Soccer (MLS) side Los Angeles FC after three years at Milan, scored his 49th goal for the Serie A side before he was substituted in the 84th minute to a standing ovation from a packed San Siro.

Theo Hernandez thought he made it 3-0 from a Leao pass before the break but his effort was ruled out for offside after a VAR check.

However, the hosts' tempo dropped after halftime and they ended up dropping points again, finishing the season with one win in their last seven league games.

Salernitana return to Serie B after three seasons in the top flight. They finished the campaign bottom of the table after suffering 25 defeats in the 38 games.

(Reporting by Anita Kobylinska in GdanskEditing by Toby Davis)

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