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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has had more than his fair share of disagreements with referees over the course of his career but the AC Milan striker showed he has a sympathetic side for the officials after Monday’s dramatic defeat to Spezia.
Ibrahimovic was reportedly among a group of five Milan players to console referee Marco Serra after his shocking mistake in the closing stages of the Serie A match at San Siro.
With the scores level at 1-1 heading into injury time, Serra prematurely blew his whistle for a foul on Milan's Ante Rebic instead of allowing advantage for Junior Messias, who curled in the rebound.
Serra held his hands up in acknowledgement of his error and play was brought back for the free-kick, which came to nothing after Ibrahimovic had a shot tipped over the bar.
Serra's mistake was compounded shortly afterwards when Spezia grabbed a dramatic 96th minute winner through Emmanuel Gyasi.
According to Italian publication Gazzetta dello Sport, Serra is set to be punished by the Italian FA and is now facing a lengthy suspension.
The official was reportedly left in a state of shock after the match but was sportingly consoled by Ibrahimovic and four other Milan players in the dressing room after full-time, according to Corriere della Sera, via Milan News.
Milan head coach Stefano Pioli revealed after the match that Serra had apologised to him for cancelling the goal.
🚨 The Italian Referees Association leaders have apologised to Milan for the massive error that was committee by the Spezia game official Marco Serra. The referee could be set for a long suspension— Milan Eye (@MilanEye) January 17, 2022
“I tried to calm my players down, but I didn’t manage as Spezia’s goal proves,” Pioli told DAZN post-match.
“We knew it was an injustice, we have ourselves to blame, but we share responsibility with the referee. I am sorry to say that.
"He even apologised, maybe that wasn’t even a fault. It’s a shame."
Defeat for Milan leaves them second in Serie A – two points behind their great rivals Inter.
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