Well. That was something! AC Milan stepped up to the plate, looked the pitcher in the eyes and didn’t wait until a full count before swinging for the fences, and my god - what a hit!
Franck Kessie starred in the opening minutes of the game, popping up everywhere with a pass, tackle or shot - and certainly it was the Ivorian that looked the most likely to open things up for Milan. Hakan Calhanoglu wanted to make things happen, and if Borini had his feet, he’d have buried a fantastic pass from the Turkish magician to give Milan the lead. It was Andre Silva who opened the scoring for Milan early on in the first half after scrappy play in the box gifted him a chance that he placed into the corner.
The Milan faithful crowding the San Siro barely had time to catch their breath. After Calhanoglu’s freekick was saved, it was none other than Riccardo Montolivo who buried the ball to double Milan’s lead. Minutes later, a Calhanoglu cross from the deep flank found Andre Silva who turned and bullied the defense to earn his chance to take a shot, which found it’s way home. Within thirty minutes, Milan had scored three.
Milan could have extended their lead, as KF Shkëndija seemed to shrink and allow Milan to play their game, and it did look like a training match for Milan - especially when Andre Silva dummied to allow a lay-off via him from Conti’s ball to reach Hakan Calhanoglu who scorched the ball wide and over.
Milan made getting bast US Craiova pretty difficult in the previous round, but are clearly gelling. This is a positive sign. However, a bit more fight was expected from the Macedonians - and the lack of will after conceding early on is perhaps why they don’t get far in European competition - seriously - an early goal and Milan are there for the taking! At any rate, expect a bit of tiny bit of fight when we travel to Macedonia in the return leg.
Speaking of the second leg, it’s probably out of the hands of KF Shkëndija. As 70 minutes approached, Andre Silva and Andrea Conti ran riot - setting up goals for Fabio Borini and Luca Antonelli - seemingly just for the hell of it - to take the tally to five goals. The scoring didn’t stop there though; Riccardo Montolivo somehow stung the ball in to the net to give Milan an enormous buffer. With the glee brought by victory came a sting in the tail - Giacomo Bonaventura ensured that Milan finished the match with ten men, after he walked off with a late injury. Patrick Cutrone will be upset he didn’t come home with a goal as well, after one chance hit the post and his overhead kick spooned wide.
Milan are through and the group stages await after the 2nd leg is completed, let’s hope it’s as good as this one! Just for the fun of it.