Defiant AEK Hold AC Milan To Draw At San Siro
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE (GROUP D) - MATCHDAY 3
|AC Milan||0 - 0||AEK|
AEK Athens produced a memorable backs-to-the-wall display against AC Milan in the San Siro to hold the Italian giants to a creditable 0-0 draw on Thursday in an exciting Europa League Group D encounter.
Manolo Jimenez’s team had to play on the back foot for long spells against Vincenzo Montella’s team but also looked threatening every time they broke forward and were unlucky not to get on the scoresheet on the night.
AEK goalkeeper Giannis Anestis made a string of fine saves to deny Patrick Cutrone and Manuel Locatelli on more than one occasion as Milan moved through the gears after half-time and laid siege to the visitors’ goal.
Milan striker André Silva arguably missed his team’s best chance of the night in the 55th minute, sending a header over the crossbar from Suso's in-swinging corner.
Despite having to defend for much of the game, especially in the second half, AEK also forged a handful of decent chances themselves as they sought to grab an all-important goal.
AEK’s best chance of the night came after half and hour in a breathless moment for Milan. AEK midfielder Andre Simões managed to rob Mateo Musacchio of possession in the home penalty area and lashed the ball agonizingly across goal. Milan keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma got a touch but managed to avoid directing it into his own net.
From then on it was all Milan as the home side looked for a goal to kill off a spirited AEK side. But, five minutes from time it was almost AEK who pinched the match when substitute Tasos Bakasetas fired a free-kick goalwards, only to be denied by Donnarumma’s diving save.
Anestis then produced more heroics in the final moments as Milan piled on the pressure. Hakan Çalhanoğlu's free-kick deliveries caused AEK problems throughout, and his final ball in from a wide position dipped just in front of Anestis, forcing the visiting goalkeeper into an impressive parry that evaded everyone in a packed penalty area.
The final whistle was greeted with jubilant reactions from the AEK players and bench, as the Greek team pulled off one of the best results in their history to keep their Europa League campaign alive.
Both teams remain unbeaten in Group D, with Milan top on seven points and AEK second with five after three matches. The result means AEK avoided defeat for the first time in three visits to Milan, and the Greek side put an end to Milan's six-match winning streak in Europe.