The first time that AC Milan took to the pitch in the preliminary stages of European competition was on 9 August 2000, when they played Dinamo Zagreb at San Siro. It was the third qualifying round, with qualification to the group stage of the Champions League up for grabs. The Rossoneri’s third-place finish in the 1999/00 meant that a two-legged affair against the Croatian side was required for the Diavolo to progress to the main competition.
The 3-1 victory in Milan was hard-fought, with Gianni Comandini’s goal in the closing stages bringing more certainty ahead of the second leg, which AC Milan won at the Maksimir Stadium thanks to Shevchenko’s brace and José Mari’s finish to make it 3-0. That season, the Champions League final would be played at San Siro.
Another summer, another qualifying round. This time, AC Milan’s opponents were Slovan Liberec, and the first leg took place on 14 August 2002. Seedorf’s debut, Abbiati’s injury and the news of Costacurta’s return, which was gratefully received in the dressing room, characterised AC Milan’s qualification over two legs.
AC Milan’s preliminary tie in August 2006 was historic. A year where Champions League qualification was secured in three stages: on the pitch thanks to an 88-point haul in 2005/06, on appeal following the Calciopoli scandal and then on the field once more thanks to three goals against Red Star Belgrade: one at San Siro and two at the Marakana in Serbia.
Seven years later, AC Milan would come up against PSV Eindhoven with the aim of making it through to the group stage. This was successfully achieved thanks to a 1-1 draw in the Netherlands in the first leg and a 3-0 victory at San Siro in the return fixture.
The new Home Kit for the 2020/21 season is now available to buy on the AC Milan Online Store!