It wasn't pretty, but it was a win.
AC Milan came out victorious in a penalty shootout at Soldier Field in Chicago, defeating Bayern Munich in the International Champions Cup on Wednesday night. Tied 3-3 in regulation, Milan buried all five of their spot kicks, with Gianluigi Donnarumma coming up with a key stop on the fourth attempt for the Bavarian side to help secure the victory.
Goals from M'Baye Niang, Andrea Bertolacci, and Juraj Kucka were offset by efforts from David Alaba and Franck Ribery, who sent the match to penalties when he scored a penalty in the 89th minute, his second goal of the night.
The penalty shootout was an enjoyable one, perhaps no shot more exciting than the panenka finish from Kucka. His penalty took about five seconds to go from his foot, to crossing the line. The shootout turned when Donnarumma went low to make the save on Rafinha, keeping it out cleanly by getting his body behind it. It ended when Giacomo Bonaventura nearly ripped the net off the frame, burying his shot into the upper left corner and giving Milan the win.
The same issues that Milan struggled with last season often reared their head in this match. Riccardo Montolivo was all-around poor in the match, as he failed numerous times to link up with teammates and was responsible in part for two goals. In defense, poor tackling and even worse marking were the reasons for the three goals conceded in regulation. However, M'Baye Niang gave a very encouraging performance, as he looks to pick up where he left off prior to his accident last season. He could have scored three times in this match, but his pace and skill on the ball caused Bayern Munich problems all evening.
Both sides fielded a very strong starting eleven. While many of the top players for Bayern Munich did not make the trip, they still fielded a side containing Ribery, Xabi Alonso, Philip Lahm, Alaba, and Javi Martinez. Meanwhile, Milan fielded a starting eleven that, aside from the missing Carlos Bacca and Mattia De Sciglio, contained many of the names who should feature for the club this season.
The Rossoneri started the match on the front foot. Milan had two great chances inside the first ten minutes of the match, with Niang and Suso both getting into terrific positions to score. However, both scuffed their chances and wasted them.
In the fifteenth minute, it looked like Milan got onto the scoreboard, but a poor decision by Niang nullified it. A terrific cross was played into the area from Alessio Romagnoli out wide, and the ball appeared to be bouncing into the goal. However, Niang tapped it home from less than a yard out, and was ruled to be in an offside position.
A few minutes later, Donnarumma was forced into action, and he came up huge as he parried away a thundering effort off the head of Holger Badstuber from about twelve yards out. Seconds later, he punched away a dangerous cross as he was getting up off of the ground, showing off some of the reflexes that have many teams in Europe lining up to purchase him.
Milan got their deserved lead--albeit through a gift--in the 23rd minute. Badstuber made a mistake in the back with a horrible pass, and Niang reacted quickly to race onto it. He calmly slotted past Sven Ulreich into the bottom right from just outside the box and put the Rossoneri ahead.
Six minutes later, the lead was gone. A cross from Alaba found Ribery near the top of the area, and he rifled a shot past the frozen Donnaruma to level the match at 1-1. It was unclear if there was a deflection or if it simply caught Donnarumma wrong-footed, but he made no attempt to get to the shot. However, the defense was somewhat to blame for allowing Ribery to get that much space, especially Montolivo, who could have blocked the shot but made little effort to do so.
In the 39th minute, the defense once again let Donnarumma down. Alaba got the ball just outside the top of the box, and after seeing he would not be pressed, he turned and let loose a bouncing missile from twenty yards out. Once again, the young keeper was beat near-post and Bayern were on top. Once again, Montolivo was partially to blame, as he was the closest to Alaba and simply watched him take the shot, which gave Bayern the lead going into the half.
The second half started much better. Milan made a few substitutions, and one of them made an immediate impact. A cross was sent into the box and headed around, then bounced right to the foot of Bertolacci, who volleyed into the back of the next from about six yards out to level the score once again. It was an impressive finish for a player who was one of the biggest disappointments of Milan's last season.
A few minutes later, Milan got a counter-attack and Niang found Suso on the right wing. However, for the second time in the match Suso failed to finish the chance. He attempted to curl it around the charging keeper but put it high and wide. A minute later, a ball was sent into the area for Niang, but he did not give enough of an effort to get on the end of it.
Once again, a bit of luck bounced Milan's way as Kucka put the Rossoneri ahead in the 61st minute. He received the ball in space, took a few touches, and then let fly from about thirty yards out. The shot deflected slightly off the leg of Nicolas Feldhahn and went the opposite way of the diving keeper, much to the dismay of the defense.
About twenty minutes before time, Alaba got another chance to level the match. His beautiful free kick from about 40 yards out curled over the defense and found the head of Feldhahn, but his thundering header went over the bar. Had he gotten it on target, it is doubtful Donnarumma would have had an answer for it, but the Milan defense came away unscathed.
It appeared that Milan were going to hold on for the win, as they began to hunker down and frustrate the Bavarian side. However, it fell apart in the 89th minute, when Milan conceded a penalty after a poorly timed tackle by Jherson Vergara. Donnarumma went the right way, but the perfectly-taken penalty from Ribery went just past his fingertips into the corner of the goal. Less than a minute later, Donnarumma salvaged the draw, as he palmed away a cross that looked destined to end in a goal, getting his fingers to it just in time and preserving the chance to win in the penalty shootout.
Milan will get a few days to rest, before they take on Liverpool on Saturday morning, a matchup that will most likely feature numerous references to the 2005 Champions League final in Istanbul. The Rossoneri will likely need to play much better to take three points against the English side, but they are off to a good start in the ICC.