Valentina Giacinti has gifted AC Milan their first ever European victory. A brace from the Rossonere’s most important player in the history meant Maurizio Ganz's team beat FC Zürich 2-1 at Letzigrund. This also means that AC Milan will go through to Friday’s final against Hoffenheim, which will see who qualifies for the second and last preliminary round, leading in turn to the group stage and the last 16.
The Rossonere played with personality and imposed their game in Switzerland, not letting themselves get carried away with what was at stake. The Rossonere captain was the star of the show, and scorer of two fine goals – one with the right and one the left. But many of the team also performed exceptionally, from the usual Vero to the new signings Giuliani, Árnadóttir and Thomas. Grimshaw also made an excellent impact as a substitute, providing the assist for the final goal.
CHECK OUT THE PICTURES FROM THE GAME
Only 24 seconds in AC Milan had their first chance; Thomas sprinted down the right and crossed it in to Vero in the centre, but Peng denied the opportunity. The Rossonere came close to breaking the deadlock again in the 16th minute when Thrige sent Giacinti through on goal, though her volley was parried. In the 21st minute Giuliani blocked an attempt by Terchoun, while in the 28th minute Vero hit the crossbar from a free kick. A goal was in the air, and it eventually arrived in the 33rd minute. Thomas received a cutback into the area from Thrige, and the Dane then sent it on to Giacinti, who completed the triangle-play with a nice finish to give the Rossonere the advantage. Just before half time, in the 39th minute, Árnadóttir made a beautiful recovery to block a shot on goal from Dubs.
The second half opened with a chance for the Rossonere to double their lead, with Vero's splendid assist in the 52nd minute for Thomas. Her shot then rebounded, forcing Peng to give away a corner. The Rossonere hit a second crossbar in the 60th minute with Giacinti, before conceding a goal in the 67th minute when Mégroz received the ball from the edge of the area, her shot getting the better of Giuliani. AC Milan, however, did not give up, responding three minutes later with a beautiful attacking move from Bergamaschi. In the 76th minute Peng denied an extremely close shot from Agard, but in the 81st minute the home team let in a second; Grimshaw and Vero linked up to assist Giacinti, who shot with her left foot, hitting the far post and making it 2-1. The game had a thrilling end, with Giuliani denying Humm in the 93rd minute.
FC ZÜRICH 1-2 AC MILAN
FC ZÜRICH (4-4-2): Peng; Fischer (65' Regazzoni), Stierli, Kiwic, Mégroz (84' Wulff); Piubel (75' Andrade), M. Moser (75' R. Moser), Vetterlein, Dubs (65' Riesen); Humm, Terchoun. Subs: Bruderer, Benz; O'Neill, Flury, Henz, Heeb, Matsushita. Coach: Grings.
AC MILAN (3-4-2-1): Giuliani; Fusetti, Agard, Árnadóttir; Bergamaschi, Jane (72' Grimshaw), Adami (92' Tucceri Cimini), Thrige; Thomas, Vero (84' Stapelfeldt); Giacinti. Subs: Korenčiová, Cazzioli; Codina Panedas, Kirschstein, Rizza, Longo, Miotto, Cortesi. Coach: Ganz.
Referee: Kateryna Usova (Ukraine).
Goals: 33' and 82' Giacinti (M), 67' Mégroz (Z)
Booked: 72' Terchoun (Z), 78' Giacinti (M), 93' Stierli (Z), 96' Bergamaschi (M)
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