Christian Pulisic came off the bench to score a ‘Made in America’ late goal in AC Milan’s 1-0 win at Genoa after an intense finale on Saturday as the Rossoneri took a two-point lead at the top of Serie A.
Pulisic combined with United States teammate Yunus Musah to net the winner three minutes from full-time.
Fellow forward Olivier Giroud also had a crucial part to play in the match but in an unusual position. His vital double save in the 14th minute of injury time came as he ended the match wearing the goalkeeper’s gloves and jersey after Mike Maignan was sent off. Milan had already used up all of its substitutes so Giroud took over in goal.
“I didn’t expect to experience these kinds of emotions at the other end of the field,” Giroud said with a smile and still wearing Maignan’s jersey. “But it’s very important to have made these saves.
“I think I’m one of the tallest in the squad … so naturally I went in goal. I liked going in goal when I was a kid too. But it was a really special emotion when I made the save, almost like a goal.”
Genoa also had its goalkeeper sent off in a separate incident.
Milan will spend the international break solo at the top, two points clear of rival Inter Milan, which let slip a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at home to Bologna earlier Saturday.
Juventus was third, four points behind Milan, following a 2-0 win over Torino in a derby match.
Milan would have been expecting a tough match at promoted Genoa, which thrashed Roma recently and also beat Lazio as well as holding defending champion Napoli to a draw.
But despite a number of injuries, Milan coach Stefano Pioli opted to rest some of his players following Wednesday’s 0-0 draw at Borussia Dortmund.
Milan’s star attacking trident of Pulisic, Rafael Leão and Giroud started on the bench. Pulisic and Leão were brought on at halftime and Giroud came on in the 66th minute.
And it was Pulisic who broke the deadlock when he controlled Musah’s cross with his back to goal and spun to drill the ball into the bottom right corner. There was a long check by VAR before the goal was awarded.
That was only the start of a crazy finale. Milan goalkeeper Maignan was shown a straight red card in the eighth minute of stoppage time following a collision with Genoa forward Caleb Ekuban.
Giroud assumed goalkeeping duties, pulling Maignan’s shirt over his own as he did so.
Albert Guðmundsson almost leveled from the resulting free kick as it was deflected off the crossbar and Fikayo Tomori then headed another attempt out for a corner.
Genoa goalkeeper Josep Martínez came up for that but ended up fouling a player and he was shown a yellow card and sent off too.
Genoa came close to snatching the equalizer with practically the last kick of the match but Giroud showed brave goalkeeping skills to rush off the line and save from George Pușcaș before desperately smothering the loose ball. He was surrounded and embraced by his teammates.
Two corners led to two goals for Juventus. The Bianconeri broke the deadlock in somewhat chaotic circumstances two minutes into the second half.
Filip Kostić whipped in a corner from the right and Moise Kean’s overhead kick was cleared off the line by Torino captain Ricardo Rodríguez, who also tried to do the same on Federico Gatti’s follow-up. The ball appeared to have already crossed the line, however, but Gatti headed in the rebound to make sure.
The goal was originally disallowed for offside but was given on video review after a lengthy check, allowing the 25-year-old Gatti to celebrate his first Serie A goal.
Juventus doubled its lead in the 62nd when Arkadiusz Milik headed in another Kostić corner from the right.
Kean also had an early goal ruled out for offside.