MATCH REPORT: ATLETICO MADRID 0-1 AC MILAN, LATE STRIKE EARNS THE ROSSONERI A VITAL WIN IN BID FOR QUALIFICATION

hosted bottom-dwellers , with both sides needing a win for their own ends. Los Rojiblancos knew a win here would set them up well for progressing. Meanwhile, the Rossoneri wanted to keep an outside shot alive and boost their Europa League chances as well.

The first real chance came within three minutes through Rodrigo De Paul who volleyed Yannick Carrasco’s cross at goal. Ciprian Tatarusanu was alert and showed sharp reflexes. The game settled down quickly after that as the two defences took over, especially Ateltico’s who were barely giving Milan a sniff.

 

There were quite a few hard challenges going about, causing stoppages in play more often than not. Theo Hernandez blazed a cross over past the half-hour mark in what had been a game of very less chances so far. In fact, there were to be no more till halftime with neither side really looking like scoring to be honest.

 

Thomas Lemar yet another early shot of a half, after a good run and taking the strike with his weaker right foot straight at Tatarusanu. Though the match had brightened up in intensity, chances were still at a premium. Milan were getting on top as the final 20 minutes came about. Junior Messias’ cutback found Tiemoue Bakayoko whose strike was blocked by Stefan Savic using his knees.

 

With the game winding down, Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a glorious chance to score but Oblak saved the Swede’s powerful strike at the near post. Though the flag went up for offside, replays showed it would have been onside if the ball found the net. However, the away side did not have to wait too long for the goal. A sweeping team move saw Franck Kessie’s cross headed home by Messias, ghosting in between the two centre-backs, to sucker punch Atletico.

 

Matheus Cunha had the chance to salvage a point right at the death but put his shot from close range horribly wide. That was that as Milan remain firmly in the mix for making it into the next round.

Here are the three key takeaways from the match:

ATLETICO PAY DEARLY

Diego Simeone’s side were at their stoic best defensively, making the game scrappy and going hard on the ball. The players were doing everything to throw Milan off their game, which led to the Italians barely threatening a goal. On the offensive aspect, they did have some good half-chances which often found the goalkeeper.

 

De Paul was their danger man, having two fine shots while Antoine Griezmann scuffed an attempt as well. Atletico did get a bit more adventurous at the start of the second half but towards the end, it was pretty much about holding onto the point on offer which proved to be their big undoing as they are now bottom of the group.

 

MILAN BACK FROM THE BRINK

It has been a hugely disappointing campaign for Stefano Pioli and co. after seven years of absence from the competition. Having entered the game with just one point to their name, it was really a do-or-die clash. There really were very few opportunities to score for either side and Milan were often too wasteful on the ball.

 

Brahim Diaz, Rade Krunic, and Olivier Giroud all had poor outings for the time they spent on the pitch while by the time Milan did start pushing for a winner, it looked like it was too late. However, Messias, who had been a bright spark ever since coming on got the final say and kept Milan’s chances of progressing alive.

 

WILL EITHER TEAM QUALIFY?

Porto now occupy the second-spot in the group, with both these teams a point behind. Milan meet Liverpool while Atletico Madrid need to beat the Portuguese side if they are to keep their hopes of progressing alive. It is up for grabs for all the remaining three sides now.

 

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