By Eskender Tamrat
When: 9:00AM EST, Sunday, April 23rd, 2017
Where: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan, Italy
Betting Line: OFF
TV Coverage: beIN Sports, fuboTV
A week after euphoric injury-time goals for both sides in the last round, A.C. Milan (17-7-8) will entertain Empoli F.C. (6-8-18) on Sunday. Milan secured a late draw in the final kick of their match against city rivals Inter Milan (17-5-10), while Empoli extended their lead over the relegation zone to five points following registering their first win since January in ACF Fiorentina (14-10-8).
Milan won the first fixture between the sides emphatically back in November. Gianluca Lapadula's early opener canceled out two minutes later by a long-range strike from Riccardo Saponara, but Milan exploded in the final 30 minutes to register a 4-1 success at Empoli. Lapadula completed the scoring after Suso put Milan in front and Andrea Costa's own-goal put the result in doubt. It was Milan's heavy win of the season until they defeated hapless U.S. Città di Palermo (3-7-22) 4-0 a couple of weeks ago.
Heading to Florence, only a few people thought struggling Empoli will have a chance against a side playing for a place in Europe. But with Empoli's popular figure – the ever-present Massimo Maccarone – rooted in the substitute bench, the out of form club showed determination in a hard-fought encounter. Nine yellow cards dished out by match referee Paolo Silvio Mazzoleni – five of them for Empoli – before Fiorentina's Nikola Kalinic saw red in injury-time. Omar El Kaddouri gave the visitors the lead before half-time with his third goal of the season, but former Barcelona prodigy Cristian Tello leveled matters in second-half until Manuel Pasqual coolly netted the winner from an injury-time spot-kick, in the absence of Maccarone.
Vincenzo Montella's side avenged the manner Inter leveled the score in this season's first Milan derby. With seven minutes left to play, they were still trailing Inter by two first-half goals. But Alessio Romagnoli's strike following Suso's ninth assist of the season gave hope for I Rossoneri. And with Cristián Zapata's improvised volley deep into injury-time judged to be a goal by a goal-line technology, it was them who was allowed to celebrate the draw after a tense derby match. Both players didn't score a goal in league play this term before last Sunday, making them the unlikeliest of heroes. Milan continues to have the edge in the race for Europa League places and started the new era under the ownership of Rossoneri Sport Investment Lux on a positive note.
1. Vincenzo Montella (2-2-0), who started his playing career at Empoli and was in charge of the other Tuscany club Fiorentina for three years, never lost against Empoli in four matches he faced them as a manager.
2. Empoli's nickname is the same as Italy's national team. They are called Azzurri (The Blues) because of their home colors.
3. According to Squawka, Empoli players (191) made the fewest key passes in Serie A this season. Milan are only tenth in the similar standing with 292 key passes.
Both sides will head into the game in confidence, but the recurring problem of an underwhelming Milan side after a lauded performance could occur once again on Sunday.
A.C. Milan 1, Empoli 1
|Omar El Kaddouri|
|THREE WAY ODDS||America's Bookie||williamhill||bet365||gtbets||guts||sportsinteraction||topbet|
| Empoli |
@ AC Milan
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| +800 |
| +750 |
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