October 20, 2019 / 9:27 PM / a month ago

Lecce strike late to earn draw at AC Milan on Pioli's debut

(Reuters) - A stunning stoppage-time equaliser from Lecce’s Marco Calderoni denied Stefano Pioli a win on his debut as AC Milan coach when his side were held to a 2-2 home draw in Serie A on Sunday.

Hakan Calhanoglu smashed in the opening goal during an impressive first half from the hosts but Lecce drew level after the break through Khouma Babacar.

Substitute Krzysztof Piatek restored Milan’s lead with nine minutes remaining but Calderoni’s long-range piledriver in the 92nd minute levelled the scores.

Former Inter Milan coach Pioli made his debut in the Milan dugout after succeeding sacked boss Marco Giampaolo earlier this month.

“It’s a pity, we wanted the win and didn’t get it because of our mistakes,” Pioli told Sky Italia.

“I saw some good moves, quality and spirit, but if you leave the game open, you can have a nasty surprise at the end.”

The draw leaves his side in 12th place on 10 points, their lowest tally after eight games since the 2012/13 season.

“Milan players are well aware of their capabilities and the fact they are wearing a prestigious jersey,” he continued.

“They will be able to judge their own performances and we’ll analyse them carefully, but in a way we paid for our generosity, as we ran after the ball and didn’t keep an eye on other players. I think we deserved to win.”

Milan made a bright start as Rafael Leao tested the goalkeeper and hit the side-netting, before Calhanoglu smashed a half-volley in from a tight angle in the 20th minute.

The impressive hosts registered 12 shots on goal before the interval, a record for the club in the first half of a Serie A game this season.

Lecce were handed a lifeline when Andrea Conti handballed in the box to concede a penalty, and Babacar found the net on the rebound after Gianluigi Donnarumma saved his spot kick.

Pioli’s team reacted as Calhanoglu hit the bar directly from a corner before narrowly firing a half-volley wide, and they found the breakthrough when the Turkish midfielder’s cut-back was rolled into the corner by Piatek.

Milan looked set for victory as they headed into stoppage time until Calderoni unleashed a stunning left-footed effort into the corner.

Earlier on Sunday, an Andreas Cornelius hat-trick helped Parma thrash struggling Genoa 5-1.

Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; editing by Clare Lovell and Pritha Sarkar

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