Saelemaekers snatches late draw for AC Milan at Roma
Alexis Saelemaekers snatched an incredible 1-1 draw for AC Milan at Roma on Saturday with a stoppage-time leveller moments after Tammy Abraham thought he had won the game for the hosts.
Belgium midfielder Saelemaekers poked home in the seventh minute of added time to silence the Stadio Olimpico and make sure that Milan would stay in the Champions League positions.
Milan are fourth, ahead of Roma on goal difference thanks to Saelemaekers’ strike which cancelled out a fabulous low finish from Abraham in the 94th minute.
Both teams are three points ahead of Inter Milan, who will however take fourth spot if they beat Lazio in Sunday’s early kick-off.
Should Inter win at the San Siro it would also give Napoli the chance to seal their first Italian title in over three decades, as Lazio trail the champions-elect by 17 points with seven matches remaining.
Napoli would need to beat Salernitana on Sunday afternoon to win their third Scudetto after those conquered by talisman Diego Maradona in 1987 and 1990.
The two goals were each side’s only shot on target in what was otherwise an uninspiring encounter in the Italian capital which came alive in the final seconds.
Roma thought they had won the match despite an injury crisis which meant defenders Chris Smalling, Diego Llorente, Rick Karsdorp were all out and midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum was also sidelined, while star man Paulo Dybala was only fit for the bench.
Jose Mourinho’s team then lost Albania defender Marash Kumbulla after just 15 minutes and just before the start of the second half had to bring on Stephan El Shaarawy for Andrea Belotti, who hurt his ribs in a clash with Fikayo Tomori.
Mourinho said he was proud of the performance but sad to lose two precious points.
“We are not a rich team, we don’t have a big squad, every time we lose a player it is a big problem,”
“I am sad, obviously, as we had three points in our hands, but I am more proud than I am sad.”Said Mourinho.
Roma will also have to do without Nemanja Matic at Monza midweek after the Serbian’s late tackle on Ismael Bennacer earned him a booking midway through the first half.
None of that mattered however when Abraham, whose other major contribution was to stop his own teammate Lorenzo Pellegrini from shooting into an open goal in the first half, sent the home fans wild with a great spin and finish.
However with the match looking all over poor defender from Gianluca Mancini allowed Rafael Leao to float a perfect cross over to Saelemaekers, who saved his team at the last.
Atalanta took advantage of the stalemate by beating Torino 2-1 Saturday’s late match to move up into sixth, a point ahead of Inter.
Duvan Zapata netted with two minutes remaining to move Atalanta two points behind Roma and Milan as the Champions League race hots up.