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Gattuso licking ‘stab’ wounds after Benevento draw

Milan (AFP) – New AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso said Benevento goalkeeper Alberto Brignoli’s last-gasp equaliser against his team felt worse than being stabbed after the newly-promoted side gained their first ever Serie A point on Sunday.

Brignoli scored an improbable diving header in the fifth minute of injury time to draw 2-2 with Milan at the Stadio Vigorito and end the southern club’s record-breaking losing run, which has stopped at 14 consecutive defeats.

“It would have been less painful to suffer a stab wound than concede that goal,” said Gattuso, who took over from Vincenzo Montella on Monday.

“Even more so conceding the goal in the last 30 seconds to the goalkeeper which is always something strange.

“We knew that we would find a Benevento full of desire, unfortunately we paid dearly for the first mistake.”

Giacomo Bonaventura had opened the scoring for Milan after 38 minutes, before George Puscas pulled Benevento level five minutes after the break.

Milan were back in control when Croatian forward Nikola Kalinic put them back in front seven minutes later, only for Alessio Romagnoli to be sent off for a second bookable offence.

With the home side a goal down as the game entered its final minutes and pushing ten-man Milan back in search of an equaliser, Brignoli headed home Danilo Cataldi’s free-kick deep into injury time to end Benevento’s record losing run and send the home fans wild with delight.

“Someone from the bench told me to go up, there was nothing to lose, I went to jump and I closed my eyes,” said Brignoli, who joined Benevento on loan this season from champions Juventus, after scoring his first ever goal.

“I dedicate the goal to all the people who are living a dream that they hoped would be better.

“We have lost so many games undeservedly at the end, even with Juventus, for once after three months of sacrifice by everyone it is nice to be able to celebrate.”

– ‘Playing with fear’ –

The draw means that seven-time European champions Milan sit eighth on 21 points, 13 away from the Champions League places their new Chinese owners are aiming for.

“It hurts and we are here licking our wounds,” said Gattuso.

“There are no consolations or excuses. 

“We didn’t always play well but we played to win right until the end. Benevento did not deserve to lose in their last five games and against us they scored in the last second. They made their own luck.

“We started playing with fear and we definitely have to improve in this. We stopped playing completely in the last seven to eight minutes of the game. It’s all psychological, it begins with the fear of losing the game.”

Captain Leonardo Bonucci told Milan TV: “It’s frustrating not to bring home the three points at such a tricky and important moment of the season. 

“The win could have given us a boost, instead, once again we are talking about the things we are lacking.”

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