- Associated Press - Saturday, January 23, 2016

MILAN (AP) - AC Milan twice surrendered the lead and was held to a 2-2 draw at Empoli in an entertaining match in Serie A on Saturday.

Milan took the lead through Carlos Bacca and Giacomo Bonaventura but Piotr Zielinski and Massimo Maccarone each time canceled out the visitors’ goals.

“We came here to win, I’m very disappointed because when you go in front twice you have to win the match,” Milan coach Sinisa Mihajlovic said. “We lacked cynicism and cunning, we allowed Empoli to come back into the game twice and got the final ball wrong too many times. The final result was right.”

Mario Balotelli almost won the match for Milan in stoppage time but scuffed his shot. The forward had already been flagged offside.

“Balotelli was hungry, maybe too much,” Mihajlovic said. “He got things wrong that normally he doesn’t. What’s important is that he continues to train like this, when he gets back to match fitness he will be an extra weapon for us.”

Milan remained sixth, provisionally 11 points behind Serie A leader Napoli, and seven behind Inter, which it plays in a derby match next Sunday.

Empoli is a point behind Milan.

Second from bottom Frosinone drew 0-0 against Atalanta. Frosinone is five points below Palermo, which occupies the last position of safety. Atalanta moved nine points off the drop zone, ahead of the rest of the weekend’s fixtures.

Milan has never lost a Serie A match in Empoli and it got off to the perfect start. Bacca sprung the offside trap to run onto Luca Antonelli’s pass over the top and slotted into the bottom left corner to give his side an eighth-minute lead.

It was Bacca’s third goal in as many matches and his sixth in his past eight.

Maccarone thought he had leveled in the 29th but had strayed offside for a glancing header on Zielinski’s free kick.

Empoli did equalize moments later when former Milan midfielder Riccardo Saponara delivered a great through ball for Zielinski to run onto and fire between Gianluigi Donnarumma’s legs.

Milan restored its lead immediately after the break in fortunate circumstances. Lorenzo Tonelli’s clearance hit M’Baye Niang in the face and flew into the path of Bonaventura who drilled the ball into the far bottom corner.

Milan was once again pegged back on the hour when Donnarumma got down well to keep out Manuel Pucciarelli’s effort but Maccarone was on hand to tap in the rebound.

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