AC Milan slipped up in Serie A’s race for the Champions League on Monday after allowing struggling Salernitana to escape the San Siro with a 1-1 draw.
Champions Milan could have drawn level on 50 points with second-placed Inter Milan but stayed fourth following Boulaye Dia’s 61st minute leveler after Olivier Giroud had headed the hosts in front on the stroke of half-time.
It was a deeply disappointing result after coming into Monday’s match on a high following qualification for the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday night.
“We had to do better, this was a chance and we knew it was… we need to grow up a bit,” said Milan coach Stefano Pioli to Sky.
“We need to grow mentally, because we’re a team that should be competitive both in Europe and Italy.
“We’re playing five days after a good performance which should have given us energy and intensity and looking at how we conceded our goal we were lacking something.”
Giroud’s eighth league goal of the season came only moments after goalkeeper Mike Maignan had stopped Dia netting the opening goal for Salernitana with a superb tackle on the edge of the box.
Stefano Pioli’s side were denied the chance to go back ahead from the penalty spot midway through the second half when referee Federico La Penna overturned his own decision to award a spot-kick for a Domagoj Bradaric foul on Ismael Bennacer.
Guillermo Ochoa then pulled off two superb saves to deny Divock Origi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with Alessandro Florenzi watching in agony as his late effort fell into the hands of Ochoa who was prone on the goalline.
“When you play a great team like Milan you know you’re going to have to dig in,” said Ochoa.
“It’s a great point for the future, for our chances of survival.”
Milan drawing is great news for Inter who fell to a shock defeat at Salernitana’s relegation rivals Spezia on Friday night.
Inter may have fallen 18 points behind champions-elect Napoli, but none of their rivals for the remaining three places in the top four won this weekend.
Just three points separate Inter and fifth-placed Roma, with Atalanta another five points back in sixth after being run over by the Napoli title train on Saturday evening.
Salernitana meanwhile stay 16th but maintain the seven-point gap between them and Verona, who sit just inside the relegation zone.