Serie A champions lie nine points behind rivals as doubts are cast over Benitez’s future.
|AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho react to Sampdoria’s equaliser [AFP]|
Serie A leaders AC Milan were held 1-1 at Sampdoria on Saturday, ending their four-game winning streak.
Robinho had put Milan ahead shortly before half-time, but Giampaolo Pazzini scored a second-half equaliser to earn his team a point by slotting past goalkeeper Chrisian Abbiati in the 59th after Daniele Gasteldello headed down a corner.
Milan have 30 points to sit four points ahead of Lazio at the top of Italy’s league ahead of Lazio’s game against Catania on Sunday.
Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said the trip to Genoa could be his side’s toughest away game yet this term and he was right given the form Sampdoria showed, although his decision to introduce the creative Ronaldinho only late on was curious.
The fact Ibrahimovic did not get a sniff at goal was the other major factor for the draw and their over-reliance on the ex-Inter man is partly why Allegri has called for a new striker in January after injuries to Filippo Inzaghi and Alexandre Pato.
Robinho forced Sampdoria goalkeeper Gianluca Curci into a sharp save in the 23rd when he curled in a shot that Curci pushed for a corner.
Ignazio Abate then tackled Pazzini just as the striker was about to shoot after he had pounced on an error by Alessandro Nesta.
|Results & fixtures|
Saturday November 27
Sampdoria 1-1 AC Milan
Sunday November 28
Inter Milan v Parma
Curci stopped a low shot from Clarence Seedorf after the Dutchman had found the space to shoot from outside the area.
Milan scored in the 42nd, when Robinho slipped the ball into Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s path and then raced into the area, where he volleyed the Swede’s cross past Curci.
Both sides maintained the fierce pace in the second half, though they struggled to create chances.
“I think that it was one of the best games of our season, in terms of interplay and defensive organisation,” Milan coach Massimo Allegri said.
“We got things wrong at the corner when Sampdoria scored, but overall I’m happy with our display.”
After Pazzini equalised, his strike partner Nicola Pozzi went close with a header that was pushed over bar by Abbiati.
Curci again denied Seedorf in the 76th. Massimo Ambrosini slipped the ball in to Seedorf behind the Sampdoria defence, but Curci got down low to stop the shot.
In injury time, Robinho shot across the face of goal, but Curci again denied Milan a second.