AC Milan took on Dudelange in Luxembourg tonight, with Milan looking to avoid an upset while the Luxembourg club looked to win hearts and minds from across Europe.
Milan started brightly, with a few chances early on to put the match on ice early. Milan saw a bulk of possession in the first 30 minutes or so, with a the team putting a few chances on net.
Gonzalo Higuain’s shot that bounced off the post early was perhaps the best early chance, with the ball glancing just wide of the far post.
Despite the early pressure, with a number of Milan players going close, Milan weren’t able to get anything really going on the offensive side of the ball. The defense was, largely, unchallenged in the first 30 minutes or so, however Dudelange was able to grab a couple of good chances after the half-hour mark. Pepe Reina was’t forced to make a save, but at least two shots went far too close to the goal while sailing over the bar to keep Milan fans comfortable.
A few of the Milan players looked rusty in the first half, with Fabio Borini, Andrea Bertolacci, and Ignazio Abate all looking like they hadn’t played professional football in years. However other players, such as Tiémoué Bakayoko and Diego Laxalt, looked pretty good in their first starting appearances for Milan.
The second half started almost as the first half ended, with Milan putting some pressure on the Luxembourgers while not being able to find the finishing touch.
Pipita would, finally, score the first goal for Milan in the 59th minute, much to the relief of Milan fans all over the world. It was a slightly sloppy goal, with the ball ending up in the back of the net via a deflection, but hey, the pretty ones and the ugly ones all count the same, right?
Borini came close to scoring twice in quick succession, but he was denied by both the post and the Dudelange keeper after getting into decent goal-scoring positions. The experience and strength of the Milan players started to come into focus in the second half, as the adrenaline started to wear off for the Dudelange players and Milan started to work themselves into better scoring positions, despite the lack of goals. Samu Castillejo could have a couple more assists if his teammates could have finished off a few good moves from the Spaniard.
The Dudelange keeper, Joe Frising, also denied Higuain a few times, doing well to save a few almost certain goals from the Argentina international striker.
Franck Kessie came on for Bertolacci in the 70th minute, Hakan Çalhanoğlu came on in the 80th minute for José Mauri, and finally Alen Halilovic came on late, in the 87th minute for Borini.
Milan continued to dominate possession, while the Dudelange players ended up putting in some heavy challenges in the closing minutes of the match, but Reina was not challenged very much in the second half and Milan did enough to see out the match.
This won’t be a match for the highlight DVD at the end of the season, but it was nonetheless an effective win away from the San Siro. Milan will now concentrate back on the Serie A match coming up on Sunday against Atalanta at home.