Ex-Arsenal and Chelsea star Olivier Giroud sent off for screaming in ref’s face
AC Milan frontman Olivier Giroud saw red for the first time in his Serie A career as the Rossoneri came up short at Lecce on Saturday.
The Frenchman allowed his emotions to get the better of him after scoring the opener on Italy's southern coast, where the Rossoneri appeared on course for three points after sailing into a two-goal lead. However, the pressure on manager Stefano Pioli is piling up after Lecce drew level with two quick-fire goals in the second period.
Giroud made his frustrations clear in the 93rd minute when he ran up on referee Rosario Abisso when he felt he deserved a free-kick for being grabbed by a Lecce defender. In addition to flailing his hands in the exchange, the 37-year-old invaded the official's personal space and was almost nose-to-nose as he blared in his face.
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Abisso responded by upgrading Giroud's yellow card to a red while the striker's back was turned. And Milan's No. 9 could only laugh in response as a bad situation suddenly got worse.
The Rossoneri were fortunate things didn't decline further as Lecce went up the other end of the field to score from the resulting free-kick. However, the would-be winner was overruled by the VAR for a Lecce foul in the build-up.
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The result leaves Milan in third and six points clear of Serie A leaders Juventus, who held off a Cagliari comeback attempt to win 2-1 later on Saturday. And that gap to the summit could grow to eight on Sunday when Milan's bitter rivals, Inter, host Frosinone at the San Siro.
Pioli can ill afford to lose his top scorer this season with Milan having now won just once in their last six outings across all competitions. Giroud saw only two red cards in 255 Premier League appearances for Arsenal and Chelsea, with four now to his credit since making his pro debut in 2005.
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The upcoming international break could be a handy reprieve for both the player and Milan, who were looking like serious contenders for another Scudetto not long ago. However, under-fire Pioli may soon see his side fall out of the race altogether if current form persists.
It's not just the manager who's been suffering from stress if Giroud's outburst at the Stadio Comunale Via del Mare is anything to go by. And the veteran would be wise to wind his neck in when confronting officials with his musings in future.
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