AC Milan travelled to Bergamo to face Atalanta in a do or die fixture for qualification to the UEFA Champions League. Milan have not played in Europe’s elite competition in seven years as the club struggled on and off the pitch amidst sales from Berlusconi to Yonghong followed by a default and repossession by Elliot. Milan relied heavily on their youth in the big game as Stefano Pioli opted to start Rafael Leao and Brahim Diaz in attack. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ante Rebic watched from the sidelines as they were both ruled out. The game was cagey and disjointed for large spells but Milan took advantage when provided with the opportunity forcing two penalties to pick up both goals in the 2-0 victory.
Toward the end of the first half, Theo Hernandez made an incredible run down the wing breaking past Atalanta’s defence before being chopped down in the box by two defenders winning the first penalty. Franck Kessie stepped up and easily passed the ball into the bottom corner - Gollini didn’t even move. 1-0 for Milan.
Milan held on defending with their lives for the entirety of the second half until the final couple of minutes when Kessie showed off his unbelievable strength shielding the ball multiple times at the Atalanta corner flag.
In the additional minutes of the game, Milan suddenly broke and the ball landed at Hakan Calhanoglu’s feet in the box and he blasted it at goal but Gosens blocked it with his hand giving Milan another penalty. Kessie once again stepped up and this time sent the keeper the wrong way completing his brace and sending Milan into the UCL on the final day of Serie A.
Milan kept five consecutive clean sheets in their final five games of the season going unbeaten with four wins and one draw to clinch a top four finish. Incredible albeit nervy stuff from Stefano Pioli and his side to return the club to where we belong.