MILAN (Reuters) – Three players were sent off and AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso was involved in a touchline row with one of his own players as they beat Bologna 2-1 on Monday to revive their Champions League hopes.
Suso and Fabio Borini put Milan in control before Mattia Destro replied, but the home side’s recent frustration boiled over in the first half with the argument between Gattuso and substitute Tiemoue Bakayoko.
Gattuso told Bakayoko to warm up after Lucas Biglia was injured but the coach sent on Jose Mauri instead, saying afterwards that the Frenchman had taken too long to get ready. There was a heated discussion between the pair which was caught by television cameras.
Milan had to survive the last 15 minutes with 10 men after Lucas Paqueta was sent off when he appeared to slap the referee’s hand after being booked for retaliation while Bologna finished with nine after Nicola Sansone and Mitchell Dijks were dismissed.
The win lifted Milan to fifth place on 59 points, ahead of AS Roma on their head-to-head record, although they are still three behind Atalanta who are fourth and occupy the last of the Champions League slots.
Qualification for the Champions League is the minimum Milan are aiming for this season and they have lost fourth place following a disappointing run of results, leaving nerves frayed.
Media reports said that Bakayoko, on loan from Chelsea this season, was an hour late for a training session last week after his car ran out of petrol although those have not been confirmed by the club.
“I told Bakayoko to warm up, he took his time and I chose Mauri, Gattuso told reporters. “I have 27 players, we wear a glorious shirt and I must be objective and honest in everything I do. I waited seven or eight minutes, he still had not put on his shin pads so I made that choice.
“The most important thing is Milan, not these things,” he added.
Suso fired Milan ahead with a low shot from the edge of the area in the 36th minute, just as Bologna were threatening to take control.
Borini snapped up the rebound after Paqueta’s shot was parried by Lukasz Skorupski in the 67th minute, although Destro scored with a shot on the turn five minutes later.
Paqueta was dismissed for reacting angrily to a tackle and then slapping the referee’s hand when the official showed him the yellow card.
Bologna’s Sansone was given a second yellow card for arguing with Franck Kessie in stoppage time and Dijks was shown a straight red for dissent immediately after the final whistle.
(Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Pritha Sarkar)