Milan: Spaniard Fernando Torres scored his maiden goal for AC Milan on his full Serie A debut to help spark the fightback in a 2-2 draw away to Empoli on Tuesday. Empoli had won only two of their 18 previous league meetings with Milan and never beaten the Rossoneri at their Carlo Castellani stadium.
AC Milan's Spanish forward Fernando Torres (R) celebrates after scoring during the Italian Serie A football match Empoli vs AC Milan at the Stadio Carlo Castellani in Empoli. Pic/AFP
However the Serie B runners-up made the most of a sluggish start by Filippo Inzaghi's men to race to a 2-0 lead inside 20 minutes thanks to goals from Lorenzo Tonelli and Manuel Pucciarelli. In the end Milan escaped with a point, but having been stunned by Empoli's pace Inzaghi admitted "If we want to achieve some of the ambitions we've set out we can't afford to concede goals in such a manner," the former Milan striker told Sky Sport Italia.
"It was a strange game. I will be looking closely at how we can avoid some of the errors we made." Milan could have conceded more in a busy opening period for the visitors' defence, with 'keeper Christian Abbiati coming to their rescue on several occasions before finally awaking from their slumber minutes before the half-time break.
Having waited 34 minutes for their first shot on goal thanks to Keisuke Honda, Milan finally reduced arrears when Torres sent a looping header from Ignazio Abate's cross into Luigi Sepe's top corner on 43 minutes. "I'm happy to have scored but we didn't get the win," said Torres. "When you're up against a team that plays its heart out then it becomes a lot more complicated.
"It was hard, but I'm satisfied. Italian defences are hard to play against, but I knew that already." Honda, one of Milan's top performers on the night, levelled just before the hour with a daisy-cutter from the edge of the box which beat Sepe into the keeper's near bottom corner. Milan pressed for a winner in the dying minutes of the match after Mirko Valdifiori was cautioned for a second time following a brutal challenge on Nigel De Jong and sent off in the 87 minute.
It was Empoli's second expulsion of the night, coach Maurizio Sarri being shown a red card for protesting the referee's decision to award no penalty for a handball by Daniele Bonera. Sarri later complained: "The handball by Bonera should have been a penalty. When you're up against a team with striped shirts, they (referees) always decide in their favour."
Milan's first draw of the fledgling season leaves them in fourth position, two points behind leaders Roma and Juventus who are in action Wednesday away to Parma and at home to Cesena respectively. Empoli remain in the drop zone, third from bottom and still looking for their first win of the campaign.