(Reuters) – AC Milan were humbled 5-2 at home to Sassuolo in Serie A on Sunday, suffering their fourth loss in five games and putting pressure on manager Stefano Pioli.
Eleven yellow cards were shown, seven for Milan players and four for visitors.
The Italian champions are fourth in the rankings with 38 points, one ahead of Lazio and Roma, who will play on Sunday. Sassuolo finished 16th.
“I feel disappointed, but I can’t be farther away from it,” Pioli told Sky Sport Italia.
“Our recent performance shows that we are struggling and this requires us to understand what situations need to be improved and handled differently.
“Our Scudetto this season will secure our place in the Champions League. That is the goal.”
Olivier Giroud thought he had given Milan the lead in the eighth minute, but his celebrations were cut short after being ruled offside by VAR.
Sassuolo’s first goal came against the flow of play in the 19th minute when Domenico Berardi sent a cross into the box and was tapped by an unmarked Gregoire Defler.
Two minutes later, Davide Fratesi doubled the lead with a low shot into the net.
Giroud scored one back for Milan in the 24th minute, heading David Calabria’s cross into the top corner, but Berardi quickly restored Sassuolo’s two-goal lead.
Ante Rebic had a chance to score in stoppage time in the first half, but Sassuolo keeper Andrea Consigli saved a volley.
Milan’s woes continued in the second half when Armand Lauriente scored a penalty two minutes into the interval and Mateus Enrique added 11 minutes in the fifth.
Milan scored their second goal in the 54th minute when a set-piece found an unmarked Revic in the box and tapped into the net, ruled offside by VAR.
Divock Origi scored Milan’s second goal in the 81st minute with a superb shot from the edge of the box.
Milan will face Inter in the Milan derby on February 5th.
“We will make the best decision to get through this moment. We have a derby next week and we want to get out of this negative situation,” said Pioli.
(Reporting by Tommy Lund of Gdansk; Editing by Ed Osmond)