AC Milan 1-1 Juventus: Ten-man Rossoneri concede late equaliser after VAR controversy

After taking the lead in the second half, Milan were heading towards an important result ahead of the return leg in March. However, instead, Juventus managed to find a way back into the game as Cristiano Ronaldo converted a penalty in the final minute of the ordinary time. 

For the Rossoneri, certainly, it’s a disappointing result after having defended so well in the second half, even with ten men. However, the performance goes to show that the first half against Inter wasn’t a fluke, which is a sign that the fans wanted to see from the team tonight.

Just like in the derby, Stefano Pioli’s side started the game well with a lot of intensity, putting pressure on their opponents and winning the ball back quickly. For a majority of the game, this was the case, although Juventus enjoyed their spells of possession especially in the second half.

Milan created several half-chances in the first 45 and Gigi Buffon was forced into action, unlike Gigio Donnarumma at the other end. In fact, the Bianconeri had just one shot on target in the first half, while the home side racked up three. In the 30th minute, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was booked for an elbow and will thus miss the second leg.

There were no major chances in the first half, but the Rossoneri were clearly on top, which might have come as a surprise to the away side. The scores remained level heading into the half-time break and the fans were eager to figure out if Milan could keep it up.

Unlike in the derby, they certainly did. After just two minutes, Ibrahimovic’s flick played Ante Rebic through on goal, although pressured by Mattia De Sciglio. The Croatian managed to get a shot away on the volley, but Buffon did what he had to do in goal to keep it out.

In the 60th minute, it was Ibrahimovic’s time to test the veteran goalkeeper. Rebic returned the favour from earlier as he managed to find the Swede, but Buffon was equal to his strike. Just one minute later, though, Milan finally got their reward after all the hard work.

Samu Castillejo sent the ball into the box with his right foot, and the cross initially seemed aimed for Ibrahimovic. However, although the 38-year-old couldn’t get to the ball, he kept the defence from getting it as well. At the back post, Rebic got to the ball before De Sciglio, putting a volley past Buffon in goal. 1-0 to Milan.

In the 69th minute, Castillejo was booked which means he will also miss the return leg. Three minutes later, Hernandez was shown a second yellow, meaning he will also miss the important clash. In this case, though, the red didn’t change much as he was already going to miss out due to the yellow card accumulation.

Of course, though, it put Milan in difficulty for the final stages of the game. Pioli brought on Diego Laxalt in place of Rebic, looking to secure the draw. From there on, his team sat back to defend the lead and did very well, not giving the away side many chances to work with.

Alexis Saelemaekers and Lucas Paqueta were also brought on to add some energy to the team. Although we didn’t get to see much, all the substitutes did well to help in the defensive phase. However, just when it looked like Milan were going to see it out, VAR was called into action after a handball on Davide Calabria in the 90th minute.

The defender jumped as he blocked Ronaldo’s overhead kick, with his back turned against the Portuguese star. In other words, he had no way of seeing the ball, and the arm looked to be in a natural position as the contact was made. Despite this, the referee pointed to the spot.

Ronaldo made no mistakes, converting the penalty for Juventus. For Milan, after such a good performance, it was certainly disappointing to concede so late. However, there were many positives signs and now they need to look forward to the return leg, although the league will come between. Either way, a strong team performance.

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