Sergiño Dest was one of the few nice surprises for AC Milan on Wednesday night, putting in his best performance to date for the Rossoneri in their otherwise shocking overtime loss against ten-man Torino in the Coppa Italia.
AC Milan 0 – 1 Torino (aet)
The USMNT defender was a surprise starter for the hosts on Wednesday, initially lining up on the left side of the back line, although he did switch to his more traditional right-sided role with around 15 minutes before the end of regulation.
He ended up being subbed out in favor of normal right-back starter Davide Calabria in the 111th minute after a strong performance, shortly before the visitors found their breakthrough which would prove the ultimate game-winner.
In the exhausting performance, Dest was heavily involved on both sides of the field, taking a total of five shots, two of which were on-target and the last of which was just wide of the mark, and created an additional two chances for teammates. He had a total 92 touches, completed 85% of his 62 passing attempts, win six of 11 duels, drew three fouls, and provided constant pressure on the wing.
Moments after Dest forced Torino keeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic into a save with a distance shot in the 25th minute, Charles De Ketelaere got his head on the ensuing corner, striking it off of the right upright in a close call.
The pace picked up after the break, albeit without any success for either team. Dest set up Tommaso Pobega for shot from dead-on that was also handled well by Milinkovic-Savic in the 49th minute.
20 minutes before full-time, the hosts looked to have gained the advantage that would eventually push them over the top after Koffi Djidji was given his marching orders, picking up a second yellow card for an ill-advised tackle near the midfield stripe on the recently substituted Milan attacker Junior Messias.
The American was particularly active and effective in the final minutes of regulation and the generous amount of added time awarded. In the 83rd minute, he had another shot from outside the area blocked on its way towards goal, then moments later saw his shot attempt from the right side pull just wide.
In the seventh minute of added time, he set up De Ketelaere for an angled attempt from the right side, but again, Milinkovic-Savic was up to the task to send the game into overtime.
One minute before the 100-minute mark, Dest’s low shot from outside the area towards the lower right corner was dealt with by the Torino keeper. This would be his last action before departing the field six minutes into the second overtime period in favor of usual right-back starter and team captain Calabria.
Shortly thereafter, one of Torino’s own overtime subs helped them take the remarkable win. After the team recovered the ball deep in their own territory in the 114th minute, Sasa Lukic launched a deep pass towards the right flank, catching substitute Brian Bayeye in full stride.
The French midfielder quickly advanced unabated into the upper right corner of the area before aiming a low cross towards the far post into Michel Ndary Adopo’s path for an easy toe-poke of a finish into the fully open left side of goal.
That score proved to be the eventual winner, with Milan unable to take advantage of their numbers advantage in the final minutes, with Torino advancing to face Fiorentina.
With their run in the Coppa Italia finished after only one game, the Rossoneri can focus on their still-ongoing domestic and Champions League campaigns as well as the upcoming Supercoppa Italiana.
They visit Lecce on Saturday in Serie A play, before heading to Saudi Arabia to face city rivals Inter in the Supercoppa four days later. Their European adventure resumes on February 14 when they host Tottenham in the Round of 16 of the Champions League.
Weston McKennie and Juventus have an extra week to prepare for their opening game of the Coppa Italia, as they will host Monza on January 19.