AC Milan secured a place in next season’s Champions League edition on Sunday evening with a 1-0 win against Juventus at the Allianz Stadium.
In reality, it was far from a classic between two sides looking exhausted and lacking in quality after a long and difficult season, but Milan needed just one point to secure fourth place and finished with three points.
The moment of quality came in the first half when a cross from Davide Calabria on the right worked out perfectly for Olivier Giroud, who beat Szczęsny with a brilliant header that he could barely stop.
A third season in a row in the Champions League awaits Milan, who have won the double against Juventus for the third time in 50 years.
Stefano Pioli decided not to make any changes to the starting line-up compared to the team that beat Sampdoria last weekend, which included Malick Thiaw, Brahim Diaz and Junior Messias.
Given that Juventus were under solid pressure to come out and try to beat Milan given the top four race situation, it is perhaps no surprise that they started on the front foot. However, it was Milan who deflected a couple of chances on the counter-attack, with Rafael Leao being particularly wasteful in his first few possessions.
The Rossoneri’s first real effort came after eight minutes when a corner from Sandro Tonali on the right met Rade Krunic’s head at the near post, but the Bosnian deflected his effort just wide.
Another opening occurred minutes later when Leao was tackled at the break, but the ball fell to Messias on his favored left foot, with the Brazilian cutting in and firing a curling straight at Szczęsny.
Mike Maignan was then called into action for the first time as Cuadrado found room to fly from just over 20 yards out. The Frenchman did well to descend quickly and get the low shot to safety.
Sandro Tonali made a few runs from behind that started to cause problems midway through the first half. He shot wide from a good position when he was offside and soon after peeked a header over the bar at a cross from Messias.
Juve provided a moment of danger as Kean was allowed to enter the penalty area virtually unopposed, his drop eventually ending up in the path of Di Maria whose first shot went over. A minute later Chiesa shot over from a small corner.
Kean’s runs continued to be the main cause of danger for the home side, and Fikayo Tomori did well to clear out a low ball that was headed for the Italian’s short post and would have certainly been submitted.
Milan broke through the deadlock five minutes before the break and it was Olivier Giroud who scored his first goal against Juventus with the club. A centimeter-perfect cross from the right flank from Davide Calabria met the Frenchman’s head beyond the penalty spot, with the ball nestled in the far corner as Szczęsny was beaten.
The theme of the first half was both teams having flashes and moments without any real quality to take risks or gain a firm upper hand, and that continued into the early second half exchanges.
The first time Maignan was tested by the home side came 10 minutes into the second 45 minutes, with Rabiot’s low shot easily caught. A minute later, Messias was brought onto the field for Alexis Saelemaekers.
There was even less action to report leading up to the three-quarters of the match, with most of the action consisting of rough challenges and both sides begging for fouls. Giroud smashed a free kick well over from a good position, after which Juve threw Milik and Paredes forward in growing desperation.
With 20 minutes left on the clock, Milan missed a huge opportunity to double their lead and probably kill the game. Giroud got possession in acres of space with Brahim running on goal and Saelemaekers on his right. He slid it to the Belgian, whose low drive was well saved in the end.
It remained the Diavolo who posed the main threat at the break, with Leao going one on one with Gatti on the left and moving into the penalty area, but couldn’t hold back his effort when there were passing opportunities.
With just under nine minutes left on the clock, Pioli made a few more substitutions. Tommaso Pobega and Fode Ballo-Toure came on, Brahim and Leao made way.
Not long after Rabiot headed from a cross wide of the far post, the last two substitutions came for Milan. Pierre Kalulu and Divock Origi came on, Calabria and Giroud made way.
The final moment of panic came in the second of four extra minutes, when a corner from Juve’s left found its way to Danilo, who volleyed from six yards out which was blocked by Kalulu.
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