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Match Recap: Milan beat SPAL 3-2 but still fail to qualify for the Champions League

Inter and Atalanta both won, dooming Milan

Spal v AC Milan - Serie A Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

AC Milan traveled to Ferrera today, knowing that a win and some help would see Milan qualify for the Champions League for the first time since the 2012-13 season. SPAL Ferrera, on the other hand, started out the match comfortably in a mid-table position, and no matter what other results happened, they would end the day in a comfortable mid-table position.

Milan started out well, with Krzysztof Piatek and Hakan Calhanoglu both having long range shots that were well-saved by the SPAL keeper. Milan increased the pressure as they searched for an opening goal. Fabio Borini got the ball in the box all alone at the far post, but he wasn’t able to get a shot off in time and ended up hitting the side netting.

Calhanoglu would open the scoring, however, in the 18th minute with a well-struck shot from near the top of the box that found the far corner of the net, screaming past the keeper. A well-deserved lead for Milan early in the match.

Gigio Donnarumma had to be subbed out after picking up an injury, meaning that Pepe Reina had to come in and see out the rest of the match for Milan. And while SPAL were still reeling from conceding the opening goal, Franck Kessie got another goal for Milan in the 22nd minute.

Two goals up at SPAL, what could go wrong? Well, this Milan team has had plenty of practice of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, so almost immediately afterwards, SPAL scored their opening goal after Ignazio Abate got a yellow card and gave up a free kick in what should have been a fairly comfortable position to defend.

Halftime came with Milan still up, but with Atalanta and Inter Milan both drawing. Would the results hold?

Milan sleepwalked in the first part of the second half and gave up an equalizer in the 53rd minute to SPAL off of a well-headed ball Mohamed Salim Fares. SPAL perhaps were a bit lucky to get another goal, but the second half had been all one-way traffic. so perhaps not. Gattuso made his second change of the night by bringing on Patrick Cutrone for Ibate as Milan started to search for a goal that would at least give them a chance to get into the Champions League.

Milan would get a goal to go in front in the 66th minute off of a Kessie penalty after Piatek was fouled in the box while going for a cross. The penalty was perhaps a tad harsh, as the ball appeared to be too high for Piatek to play, but it appeared to be a foul either way, and Kessie stepped up and buried the spot kick to send Milan ahead once again.

Borini came off for Andrea Conti as Milan looked to see the game out and get a win and hope that the result between Empoli and Inter would go the way of Empoli, however, Inter ended up winning 2-1 at the San Siro and Milan, despite the win, fail to qualify for the Champions League. The Europa League beckons once again, as Milan are one point short of Atalanta and Inter and finish in 5th place.