AC Milan tortured their fans last night with an unbelievably complicated route to qualify for the group stages of the Europa League. Milan drew 2-2 with Rio Ave in Portugal after a gruelling 120 minutes followed by the most nerve wracking penalty shoot out which Milan won 9-8 after 12 rounds. Milan struggled with Rio Ave high press and the game was largely played in the midfield. The choice to start Maldini over Colombo was a questionable one as there was no target man up front and Milan could not aim for anyone in the final third. Alexis Saelemaekers broke the deadlock in the second half with a brilliant half volley after a corner into the bottom left corner. Rio Ave equalised a little while later with a stunning strike as Bennacer, Kessie and Kjaer did not recover well on a counter. In the first minute of extra time, Kessie intercepted an attempted through ball from Gelson Dala but the ball rolled into open space for the player to collect it and slot past Donnarumma to take the lead. Kjaer was slow to react and Milan fell behind. In the final minute of extra time, Milan were fortunate to force a penalty through a clear hand ball which Calhanoglu calmly put away to take the side to the penalty shoot out. Milan did well however Colombo and Donnarumma both skied their penalties. Bennacer missed his second attempt too. Simon Kjaer managed to score the final penalty after which Donnarumma made a huge save taking Milan into the competition. The game was a difficult experience but it was a good one for mental growth for the side.
AC Milan and Italian Football Links
- Milan Primavera beat Monza 5-4 on penalties in TIM Cup. [AC Milan Offside]
- Preview of Milan's trip to Portugal to face Rio Ave in the UEL. [AC Milan Offside]
- Official: Milan sell Brazil international Paqueta to Lyon permanently. [AC Milan Offside]
- Official: Milan sign Norway international Jens Petter Hauge. [AC Milan Offside]