AC Milan’s Champions League ambitions are dashed by Spezia.
AC Milan’s chances of qualifying for the Champions League next season were dashed by a shock defeat against 18th-placed Spezia in Serie A.
Przemyslaw Wisniewski put the hosts ahead before Salvatore Esposito’s remarkable late free-kick clinched victory and boosted Spezia’s survival chances.
Milan’s defeat comes after a 2-0 home loss to rivals Inter Milan in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.
Stefano Pioli’s team is still in fifth place in the rankings, four points behind Lazio.
Milan’s Sandro Tonali and Brahim Diaz both hit the post before Wisniewski scored the opening goal when Kelvin Amian’s header bounced off the post.
After falling down, the visitors chased the game until Esposito hit the top corner to tie his side on goal difference with 17th-placed Verona and condemn Milan to their first league defeat against a bottom-three team since 2017.
Pioli’s team will seek to recover their deficit against Inter in the second leg on Tuesday, but the manager said that last week’s defeat was still fresh in their minds.
“It’s normal that the Champions League is on our minds, and it’s natural that we were disappointed with the result of the first leg,” Pioli explained.
“However, we understand that the season is determined by both the championship and the Champions League, and this defeat complicates our future.”
“We don’t have many opportunities to be positive this season.” Tuesday is a fantastic opportunity, and we must think we can beat Inter.”
Inter Milan has reclaimed third place.
Later on Saturday, Inter defeated Sassuolo 4-2 to reclaim third place, five points ahead of Milan.
In the first half, Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring before Ruan Tressoldi’s own goal and Lautaro Martinez’s finish gave the hosts control at the San Siro.
Before Lukak, Matheus Henrique and Davide Frattesi narrowed the lead.