Defender Alessio Romagnoli was sent off as AC Milan’s slumped to a 1-0 defeat at Genoa on Sunday.
Milan travelled to the Luigi Ferraris stadium looking for their third successive win following 3-2 victories over Palermo and Udinese but the Rossoneri were playing catch-up after just 10 minutes when Blerim Dzemaili beat Diego Lopez with a deflected free kick from outside the area.
Their hopes were further dented when Romagnoli was sent off on the stroke of half-time for his second bookable offence, a foul on Diego Capel.
Milan saw chances from Giacomo Bonaventura and Mario Balotelli, who started in place of Carlos Bacca, go off target while Capel tested Lopez with an angled drive that the Spaniard easily collected.
Milan battled to get back into the game after the restart only to be frustrated at every turn.
A Balotelli free-kick went high and wide after Andrea Bertolacci had been brought down from behind, and the striker fired straight at Genoa goalkeeper Eugenio Lamanna after being sent through on the left.
Following a cross from the left flank, Luiz Adriano laid off for Bertolacci in the area but the midfielder’s shot met traffic.
Balotelli has pledged to adhere to a strict list of rules after re-signing for the Serie A giants this summer, including not responding to provocation on the pitch, and his resolve was tested on several occasions.
Dzemaili swept the ball from Balotelli’s feet with a hard but fair tackle that left the Milan striker rolling on the ground and minutes later the Genoa man was cautioned for another borderline tackle that forced Balotelli to bite his lip.
Milan dug deep at the death but missed two late opportunities to level.
Former Genoa midfielder Juraj Kucka came off the bench to replace Riccardo Montolivo and ballooned over the bar from 12 yards with just four minutes to go.
And Milan’s agony was sealed in the final minute when Rodrigo Ely headed just wide of Lamanna’s upright from a corner.
Milan are ninth, six points behind leaders Inter Milan, who play Fiorentina in a top-of-the-table clash later on Sunday.
Champions Juventus suffered another slip with a 2-1 defeat away to Napoli on Saturday, while scudetto challengers Roma romped to a 5-1 win over Carpi.
The defeat was Juve’s third in six league games this season and left them two points above the relegation zone ahead of Sunday’s matches. – Agence France-Presse