NUSADAILY.COM -JAKARTA – AC Milan qualified for the last 16 of the Europa League because of the aggressiveness of an away goal against Red Star Belgrade after both teams drew 1–1 in the second leg of the round of 32 at the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium in Milan, Italy, Thursday local time (Friday WIB).
Milan, who drew 2-2 at red star’s headquarters a week ago, are entitled to continue their run to the round of 16, UEFA’s official website notes.
Milan gained a quick lead just nine minutes after the break through Franck Kessie’s penalty after Rade Krunic’s shot hit Marko Gobeljic’s arm.
Kessie celebrated the goal by paying tribute to the late Willy Ta Bi, the Atalanta youth player who recently died after battling cancer at the age of 21.
In the 19th minute, Red Star thought they had equalised after El Ben Nabouhane headed home Milan’s goal from close range.
However, the goal was disallowed by referee Jesus Gil Manzano and VAR after the ball first hit Radovan Pankov’s arm in the process of attacking so Ben was deemed trapped offside.
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Luck seemed to be on red star’s side because in the 24th minute Ben’s free-kick hit the crossbar.
However, Red Star did not break charcoal and soon Ben was able to equalize after he completed a pass sent by Mirko Ivanic.
Milan almost restored their lead in the 37th minute, but Milan goalkeeper Borjan made a brilliant save to deny Diogo Dalot’s finish on Samu Castillejo’s pass.
In the 68th minute, it was Gianluigi Donnarumma’s turn to show his ability to react carefully to sekou Sanogo’s volley to keep Milan out of the game.
Two minutes later, Milan’s task became easier when Gobeljic received a second yellow card for fouling Hakan Calhanoglu so Red Star had to finish the match with 10 men.
An 11-on-10 situation was soon exploited by Milan when Alexis Saelemaekers was able to complete Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s pass with a volley against Red Star, but the goal was disallowed because Ibra was caught offside first.
The 1-1 draw lasted until the break and that was enough for Milan to progress to the round of 16 and they will know their opponents when UEFA draw on Friday evening. (sak)