Kicked the ball off the goal line with a desperate slide, upright, missed an empty-net goal, another post. Milan struggled to advance from the Champions League group, and gave everything until the last seconds. Milan decided that the best way to bid farewell to the current Champions League format was to return to the best version of previous years.
The final day of group play in the Champions League – still hard to get used to. It may be more difficult for Milan fans, he is a legend of this competition after all. Thirty years ago, when UEFA presented the world with football’s biggest stage, the Rossoneri immediately conquered it. First season, first record: six wins out of six, only one goal conceded. Many others followed suit, but none did it this way, nearly preventing their opponent from scoring.
It would be a shame if they finished at the bottom after three decades, with Borussia Dortmund, Paris Saint-Germain and Newcastle all watching the rise. This is what people associated with Milan thought when they went to England.
Fikayo Tomori with saving the season (if not for Sulley)
From the beginning, the promotion was a series of unexpected tasks. The Rossoneri have so far returned with one win in 22 trips to the British Isles. This time, they not only had to win in Newcastle, but they also had to rely on Borussia Dortmund’s victory over Paris Saint-Germain. Such tasks cannot be completed without cheating, and Stefano Pioli’s team had some unique moves up their sleeve. The Italians, as Italians do, have first and foremost achieved great heights when it comes to destruction. True, it was Fikayo Tomori and Mike Maignane, so this was not a typical task for the southerner, but the people of Italy couldn’t help but smack their lips when they saw the Englishman riding his ass and stopping the ball on the goal line. With heroic intervention.
The problem is that until the end of the first half, Tomori was the only Milan player carrying the burden for the match. The Rossoneri had only one shot, were completely helpless in midfield, and scattered like little kids as soon as Newcastle moved towards their goal. The Magpies finally took advantage, with Joelton curling in a stunning shot after a quick, well-coordinated move, heralding that if anyone here was going to give PSG a shot in the nose, it would be their – Saudi, after all – derby. Competitors from Northern Europe.
However, more experienced fans know that Milan cannot be left out on the international stage. Even if in recent years it is Newcastle that has come closest to achieving its greatest ambitions.
Newcastle squandered its advantage
If half the goals in football are scored after at least one cross-play, the Italians have confirmed this hypothesis by equalizing the score. Had it not been for a foul in the penalty area and finishing the cross with a poor shot so that the ball fell directly at Olivier Giroud’s feet, Christian Pulisic would not have put it into the net. However, more than luck was needed to score the goal. The Frenchman showed his footballing intelligence: he saw very well that his teammate was standing at a distance, unmarked, and then in the blink of an eye he decided that the best solution was to pass the ball to him.
As he thought, so he did. Milan is back in the game.
The minutes ticked by and Newcastle looked increasingly like a team drained of energy. This is not surprising, as bump and bruise are the two words that appear most often in the halls of St. Louis. James Park in recent weeks; Running for an hour behind someone like Rafael Leao is not the most fun thing either. So when the Portuguese finally broke down and faced Martin Dubravka, the Rossoneri were one step away from heaven. Ultimately, it turned out that a few tens of centimeters really mattered, because that’s all it took for the ball to roll into the net instead of bouncing off the post.
Milan will play in the Europa League
However, it is slowly becoming clear that if someone pushes here and gives themselves a chance to capitalize on the right arrangement of stars, i.e. a winning goal for Borussia Dortmund, it will be Milan. One counterattack finally fulfilled that expectation – Samuel Chukwueze put the ball into the net. Newcastle could only endure the final throes of a dying oyster. The all-or-nothing accusations could have brought in two more pieces for Milan. On one occasion, Theo Hernandez tried to shoot from the middle of the field, taking advantage of Dubravka entering the opponent’s penalty area during a corner kick.
The second time, the counter-attack was similar to the one that had given Milan the lead, and this time it was finished off by Fikayo Tomori. However, the Englishman is more effective in front of his goal – he shoots, shoots and hits the post.
The Rossoneri won, but they did not have time to enjoy this small success. The final image from Newcastle was a close-up of the bench, with Stefano Pioli surrounded by his teammates’ phones. Apps launched, live results monitored. BVB shared the points with Paris Saint-Germain. Everything has become clear for Milan. End of tournament, goodbye.
At least there was the Europa League as consolation. The English are not so lucky – Newcastle joined Manchester UnitedAnd two Premier League representatives behind the trophy.
Newcastle United – Milan 1:2 (1:0)
Joelleton (33) – Pulisic (59), Chukwueze (84)
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