Milan 1-1 Salernitana: Dia dents Rossoneri's top-four bid

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Milan missed the chance to gain ground on their rivals for a top-four Serie A finish as Boulaye Dia cancelled out Olivier Giroud's opener in a 1-1 draw with Salernitana at San Siro.

Slip-ups from Inter, Lazio and Roma gave Milan the chance to strike an important blow in the Champions League race on Monday, and they looked set to do so when Giroud headed the opener on the stroke of half-time.

However, Salernitana hit back through Dia just after the hour mark, before a VAR review denied Milan a penalty when Ismael Bennacer went down easily under Domagoj Bradaric's challenge.

The result means Milan remain fourth, just a point clear of fifth-placed Roma in a tense battle for Champions League qualification.

While Milan dominated possession from the off, Salernitana kept them quiet until the half-hour mark, when Giroud sent a trademark overhead kick narrowly over the crossbar.

Salernitana then squandered two chances on the break, with Grigoris Kastanos' effort deflecting wide after a loose pass from Mike Maignan, before the Milan goalkeeper made a fine last-ditch challenge to prevent Dia rounding him.

The visitors' resistance was broken just before half-time as Giroud met Bennacer's corner at the near post to glance a header into the bottom-left corner.

Salernitana hit back after the restart as Bradaric led a Salernitana break down the left, with his driven cross turned beyond Maignan by a stretching Dia.

Milan threw on Zlatan Ibrahimovic in search of a winner and saw referee Federico La Penna reverse a decision to award them a spot-kick, while Guillermo Ochoa denied Divock Origi with a fine save late on.

Ochoa was involved again as Milan went agonisingly close to a winner late on, somehow clawing the ball away from the goal line following a scramble.

What does it mean? Rossoneri frustrated as top-four battle stays tight

Milan had been boosted by defeats for Inter and Roma, as well as Lazio's draw with Bologna, ahead of Monday's game, with the champions looking to go level with the second-placed Nerazzurri after bouncing back from a dire start to 2023.

However, Stefano Pioli's men failed to put Salernitana away and were never entirely convincing at the back, and three points now separate four sides competing for three Champions League spots.

Milan miss Tonali as Pioli makes historic selection

With Sandro Tonali dropping to the bench after starting Wednesday's Champions League draw at Tottenham, Pioli became the first Milan boss to name a Serie A starting XI without a single Italian player in the three-points-for-a-win era (since the 1994-95 season).

Milan sorely missed the midfielder as Salernitana avoided defeat at San Siro for the first time since their return to Serie A last season, having lost their prior three visits to play the Rossoneri or Inter by a combined 9-0 scoreline.

Giroud lacks Leao support

Milan looked set for victory when Giroud scored his third headed goal of 2023 – the joint-most by any player in the top five European leagues alongside Victor Osimhen and Danilho Doekhi.

However, Giroud was lacking support from his team-mates as Milan dropped points. Rafael Leao was jeered by the home crowd at one stage as the Portugal forward failed to hit the target with any of his five shots.

What's next?

Milan will look to get back to winning ways when they visit Udinese in Serie A on Saturday, while Salernitana host Bologna on the same day.