AC Milan qualified for the Europa League group stage in a dramatic match. The Italians had to take penalties against Portuguese representative Rio Ave – and they won dramatically.
Take a deep breath in Milan. The Milanese triumphed in the Europa League play-offs against Rio Ave and reached the Europa League group stage. The team of trainer Stefano Pioli won a dramatic game 9: 8 on penalties – and meanwhile was on the verge of collapse.
In a largely balanced duel in the Estadio dos Arcos of the Portuguese first division team Rio Ave, the favorite from Italy got off to a better start. Midfielder Alexis Saelemaekers brought AC to the winning road in the 51st minute.
Calhanoglu saves Milan on penalties
But almost 20 minutes later, the Portuguese hit back. Franciso Geraldes equalized for the underdog (72nd). After 90 minutes it was a 1-1 draw. Since the play-offs will be played without back and forth this year, extra time went through. It got strange there.
The 86th minute substitute Gelson Dala scored the opening goal for his team shortly after the start of extra time (91). Rio Ave should keep this until just before the end, earlier referee Jesus Gil Manzano (Spain) pointed to the point in the 120th minute and decided a penalty. Defense chief Toni Borevkovic saw the yellow-red card for his entry.
Hakan Calhanoglu from Hamburg and Leverkusen converted the penalty that had to come from the point (120 + 2), so that it ended up in the penalty shootout. And that was difficult.
Goalkeepers fail from the point on
The first six players on their teams transformed before the tremors started on both sides. The two goalkeepers Pawel Kieszek (Rio Ave) and Gianluigi Donnarumma also tried their hand on the penalty spot, but both failed and shot over the bar, forcing the starting scorer to start again.
After two more failed tries, ex-Wolfsburg Simon Kjaer finally scored for Milan – it should have been the last goal in a memorable penalty shoot-out, as next shooter Aderllan Santos failed at Donnarumma and sealed the end of his team with his miss.
After the game things got even stranger for Milan: the game lasted so long that the team’s team could no longer fly back to Italy as planned because the airport in Porto was already closed. The club’s own “Milan TV” reported this that evening.
Friday afternoon, the draw will decide which group of opponents the AC will face. After the departure of VfL Wolfsburg, Bayer Leverkusen and TSG Hoffenheim are also represented by two Bundesliga teams.