Two second-half goals secured lowly Spezia a shock 2-0 home win over AC Milan in Serie A on Saturday, condemning Stefano Pioli’s side to their first league loss in two months and denting their top-four hopes.
Defender Przemyslaw Wisniewski and midfielder Salvatore Esposito helped Spezia earn their first win in nine games and move them closer to safety.
Milan, who play Inter Milan in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final on Tuesday after losing 2-0 at home, have won only two of their last seven league matches.
They remained fifth in the standings with 61 points, two behind fourth-placed Inter who host Sassuolo later on Saturday.
“It’s normal that the Champions League is on our minds and it’s normal that we were disappointed with the result of the first leg,” Pioli said.
“But we know that the season comes from both the championship and the Champions League and this defeat complicates our future.
“Now we don’t have many chances left to be positive this season. Tuesday is a great opportunity, we have to believe we can beat Inter.”
Milan had clear chances to take the lead in an entertaining first half when Sandro Tonali hit the post in the sixth minute and a powerful shot from outside the box by Theo Hernandez was saved by keeper Bartlomiej Dragowski.
Spezia were hopeful of getting a penalty for a handball but a VAR review prompted the referee to rule that Tommaso Pobega had blocked M’Bala Nzola’s shot with his chest.
Knowing a draw would be a disappointing result for both Europe-chasing Milan and relegation-threatened Spezia, the sides played with higher intensity after the interval.
Milan forward Brahim Diaz hit the outside of the post from a tight angle and Spezia’s Nzola forced Milan keeper Mike Maignan to save a low shot.
Spezia took a surprise lead in the 75th minute following a corner, after Kelvin Amian’s header bounced off the post and Wisniewski netted the rebound.
Esposito sealed the win for Spezia with a stunning free kick which flew into the top left corner five minutes from time.
It was the first time since 2017 that Milan had lost to opponents in the bottom three places in the standings.
Spezia remained in the relegation zone but moved on to 30 points, level with 17th-placed Verona who have a game in hand.
Atalanta dropped one place to seventh earlier on Saturday after losing 1-0 at 15th-placed Salernitana who sealed the win in stoppage time through midfielder Antonio Candreva