Reggio Emilia (Italy) (AFP) – AC Milan were held to a goalless draw at Sassuolo on Tuesday while the acquisition of the club by American investment fund RedBird drew near to completion.
Champions Milan moved top of Serie A with the stalemate in Reggio Emilia, returning after 100 days to the site of their Scudetto triumph.
But they have five teams lurking just one point behind them, including Roma who host Monza later on Tuesday.
Sassuolo sit 10th on five points but will be concerned over the condition of talisman Domenico Berardi, who missed a first-half penalty and was carried to the dressing rooms not long after half-time with what appeared to be a thigh injury.
Milan’s sale to RedBird from fellow US fund Elliott Management is expected to formally go through by the end of the week, with rumours circulating that baseball’s New York Yankees will also take a stake in the club.
Among the investors backing RedBird’s acquisition according to a Financial Times report on Tuesday is Main Street Advisors, a California-based investment firm whose parters include the likes of basketball star LeBron James and rapper Drake.
On the pitch the league leaders underwhelmed as coach Stefano Pioli made several changes ahead of Saturday’s Milan derby with Inter — who host Cremonese later without injured Romelu Lukaku — and next Tuesday’s opening Champions League fixture at Salzburg.
One of those changes was for Simon Kjaer to make his return as a starter alongside Fikayo Tomori after nine months on the sidelines with a serious knee injury.
The 33-year-old lasted 79 minutes and will be hoping to stay fit for the World Cup starting in November in Qatar where his national side Denmark will face France, Tunisia and Australia in Group D.
Milan should have been a goal down midway through the first half when Alessandro Florenzi and Alexis Saelemaekers combined to clumsily bring down Giorgos Kyriakopoulos and hand a penalty to Sassuolo.
However Mike Maignan, so often Milan’s saviour in the past, brilliantly stretched to his right to keep out Berardi’s spot-kick.
Pioli brought on Sandro Tonali, Junior Messias and Charles De Ketelaere 12 minutes after half-time in a bid to spice up their drab performance.
But little changed and Pioli also lost Florenzi to injury as the match creaked into seven minutes of stoppage time which was no more eventful than the rest of a drab encounter.
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