AC Milan have made it through to the last 16 of the Europa League, although it was by no means easy. As was the case at the Marakàna, the Rossoneri and Crvena zvezda played out a draw at San Siro this evening. However, tonight’s 1-1 stalemate was enough for Coach Pioli’s men, who have progressed by virtue of the two goals they scored in Belgrade. The Diavolo had to dig in and didn’t produce the best of performances, with the team lacking in conviction and precision. Neither Kessie’s early goal from the penalty spot nor Gobeljić’s second-half dismissal led to the Rossoneri really taking control of the game. The team thus continue to endure a difficult period, but the fact remains that they made it through and achieved an important objective this evening. Tomorrow, in Nyon, the draw for the next stage of the competition will take place. The Diavolo are now ready to focus on their next challenge, which will undoubtedly be tough: at 20:45 CET on Sunday 28 February, AC Milan will face Roma at the Olimpico. Time to recover and get back to work, boys!
CHECK OUT THE GALLERY FROM AC MILAN V CRVENA ZVEZDA
Tomori, Dalot, Meïte and Krunić were all named in the starting line-up this evening. Rade played a key role in the opening goal of the game in the ninth minute as Gobeljić charged down the Bosnian’s shot with his arm. Kessie stepped up to take the resulting penalty and made no mistake, calmly converting from twelve yards out. The Serbs reacted well, with Ben having a goal chalked off in the 19th minute after a Pankov handball. After 22 minutes, Ben threatened once again, firing a free kick off the bar. The same player then levelled matters on the 24-minute mark, when he scored with a left-footed angled drive into the far bottom corner. AC Milan looked to regain control of proceedings and had a huge chance after 37 minutes, with Borjan sticking out a foot to deny Dalot at the back post following Calabria’s cross. The final chance of the half fell to Calhanoglu, who blasted a free kick from a promising position over the bar.
Coach Pioli made a double change at half-time, bringing on Ibrahimović and Rebić for Leão and Krunić. Zlatan was immediately involved in the action. First, his 53rd-minute snapshot was saved by the goalkeeper. Then, a minute later, he nodded a ball down for Ante, who was unable to find the net from six yards out. However, Crvena zvezda remained dangerous: in the 61st minute, Ivanić saw his attempt flash just past the far post. Seven minutes later, Donnarumma produced a miraculous stop as he clawed away Sanogo’s close-range volley, with Gobeljić failing to score the rebound. Just moments later, the latter was sent off for a second bookable offence, leaving the visitors down to ten men. Crvena zvezda remained undeterred and had a golden opportunity in the 82nd minute, when Katai hit the side netting. In added time, Rebić had an effort blocked from a great position. It remained 1-1 and the Rossoneri secured their spot in the round of 16.
AC MILAN 1-1 CRVENA ZVEZDA
AC MILAN (4-2-3-1): G. Donnarumma; Calabria (66' Hernández), Tomori, Romagnoli, Dalot; Meïte, Kessie; Castillejo (66' Saelemaekers), Krunić (46' Rebić), Çalhanoğlu; Leão (46' Ibrahimović). Subs: A. Donnarumma, Tătărușanu; Gabbia, Kalulu, Kjær; Díaz, Tonali. Coach: Pioli.
CRVENA ZVEZDA (3-4-2-1): Borjan; Gajić, Pankov, Degenek; Gobeljić, Srnić (46' Petrović), Sanogo, Kanga (69' Katai); Ben (69' Falco), Ivanić (84' Nikolić); Falcinelli (72' Pavkov). Subs: Ćopić, Popović; Gavrić; Krstović, Vukanović. Coach: Stanković.
Referee: Manzano (ESP).
Goals: 9' pen. Kessie (M), 24' Ben (CZ).
Booked: 45' Srnić (CV), 63' Ibrahimović (M).
Sent Off: 70' Gobeljić (CZ) for second booking.
Match KIT, clothing, accessories, gift ideas and much more: visit AC Milan Online Store!