It was a good first pre-season outing for the Rossoneri, who beat Novara 4-2 in a friendly at Milanello. While there was nothing riding on the match, it was a useful exercise for Coach Pioli’s men. There were some difficulties involved too: at one stage, the Diavolo were 2-0 down, and the team needed to stage a comeback in the second and third mini halves. With AC Milan’s summer preparations now well underway, it was a positive showing as the team look to get up to speed again ahead of their competitive fixtures later on this month. The Diavolo were up against a side that plays in the Lega Pro and who came close to securing promotion to Serie B last season. They surprised AC Milan early on, but, as the match went on, the superior quality of Ibrahimović and his teammates came to the fore. Particularly noteworthy was the brace bagged by Paquetá, who was heavily involved in AC Milan’s attacking play, and the goals scored by Laxalt and Calabria. Roback and Kalulu’s performances were also very encouraging. Now, AC Milan will continue to put in the hard work ahead of their upcoming Europa League qualifying match against Shamrock Rovers in Dublin, a fixture which will take place on 17 September.
CHECK OUT THE GALLERY FROM AC MILAN V NOVARA
In the first of the three 20-minute halves, the Rossoneri looked to move the ball and push forward, with Paquetá and Ibrahimović (the captain) going close. But then they were struck by a double blow. The man who took centre stage was Bellich, who headed home from close range in the tenth minute and then beat Donnarumma from the edge of the box three minutes later. With 17 minutes on the clock, Halilović had a good opportunity to reduce the arrears but, after being set up by Zlatan, didn’t connect well with the ball.
Changes were made at the start of the second period (Bellodi and Roback), and then the Diavolo began their fightback: Paquetá found the net with a high-quality left-footed effort following Ibrahimović’s assist after 26 minutes. It wasn’t long before AC Milan drew level: Roback did well to escape in the area and centre the ball, the goalkeeper was unable to hold it and Laxalt supplied the finish. In the 29th minute, the Uruguayan man had another effort, but Marricchi thwarted him.
Laxalt also threatened at the start of the third half but fired off target while running in full flight. The momentum was with AC Milan, and the Rossoneri managed to complete the comeback after 47 minutes thanks to Calabria, who, after Paquetá had hit the post, latched onto the rebound and found the corner with his right foot. In the 55th minute, Roback’s joy was short-lived: he was in an offside position when he diverted Hernández’s shot into the net. Nevertheless, AC Milan grabbed a fourth with 57 minutes on the clock, with Paquetá volleying home to score his second. In the closing stages, Antonio Donnarumma produced a solid stop to deny Cisco. The final whistle was then blown.
AC MILAN 4-2 NOVARA
AC MILAN (4-2-3-1): A. Donnarumma; Kalulu (41' Bennacer), Duarte, Hernández, Laxalt; Calabria, Kessie; Halilović (21' Bellodi), Paquetá, Tonin (21' Roback); Ibrahimović (41' Capanni). Substitutes: Jungdal, Moleri; Stanga; Michelis, Mionić, Sala; Capone. Coach: Pioli.
NOVARA (4-3-3): Marricchi (49' Pallavicini); Pagani, Bove, Bellich, Cagnano; Collodel, Nardi, Hrkać (53' Rusconi); Bortolussi, Zunno (29' Cisco), Gonzalez (41' Pinotti). Substitutes: Spada; Baldi; Schiavi; Piscitella, Tordini. Coach: Banchieri.
Referee: De Angeli from Milan.
Goals: 10' and 13' Bellich (N), 26' and 57' Paquetá (M), 32' Laxalt (M), 47' Calabria (M).
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