MILAN: Mario Balotelli struggled to make an impact in a second-half substitute’s appearance as Empoli dug deep to hold AC Milan 2-2 and dent the Rossoneri’s European hopes on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).
Milan traveled to the Castellani stadium buoyed after a 2-0 defeat of Fiorentina last week that left Sinisa Mihajlovic’s men 12 points behind leaders Napoli and within sight of the European qualifying places.
But the visitors had left themselves ex¬posed on the half hour when Empoli for¬ward Piotr Zielinski was unmarked to level Carlos Bacca’s eighth-minute opener.
And the Milan defence was at fault on the hour when veteran striker Massimo Maccarone pounced at the back post to convert a rebound from teenaged goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to level again after Giacomo Bonaventura had restored their lead on 48 minutes.
Milan’s sixth draw of the season left them in sixth place, with Empoli one point and two places further adrift.
Bacca spurned an opportunity to create a last-gasp chance, prompting Mihajlovic to speak to the Colombian directly after the final whistle.
But the Serbian coach said Bacca alone wasn’t to blame.
“We came here to win and I’m disappointed because we took the lead twice and that should have been enough for victory,” he told Sky Sport.
“We made mistakes but in the end it’s a fair result.”