STADIO SAN SIRO (Milan) – While AC Milan still retain slim hope of making it to the Champions League knockout rounds, the helpless way the Rossoneri fell to a 3-1 home defeat to Borussia Dortmund suggests they’ll need a remarkable feat to beat Newcastle United in their final game of Group F.
Stefano Pioli‘s side looked cursed from the very start of the night, when a missed penalty from Olivier Giroud after six minutes was quickly followed by Marco Reus‘ opener, rubbing salt in the Frenchman’s wounds by converting a spot-kick of his own.
Samuel Chukwueze‘s equaliser in the closing minutes of the first half initially seemed to pave the way for a potential comeback, but goals from Jamie Bynoe-Gittens and substitute Karim Adeyemi after the break wrapped up an overall deserved victory for Dortmund. The result leaves the Germans as the first side from the competitive Group F to advance to the knockout rounds.
Chukwueze helps AC Milan bounce back, but…
AC Milan opted for a bold approach, keeping their full-backs extremely high as they built from the back – Davide Calabria was the first to make the most of such positioning, sweeping in a low cross that both Olivier Giroud and Samuel Chukwueze failed to meet.
However, it took little for the hosts to win the ball back again and set up Chukwueze, whose shot went straight at Nico Schlotterbeck‘s arm, leading to referee Istvan Kovacs awarding a penalty.
The San Siro’s volume levels raised as Giroud waited on the spot, but Gregor Kobel did well to dive to his right and keep out the Frenchman’s attempt.
The lively start continued as Borussia Dortmund‘s Jamie Bynoe-Gittens earned the second penalty in the space of four minutes by forcing a foul from Calabria. Unlike Giroud, Marco Reus kept his head and converted coolly.
While the Rossoneri tried to put up an immediate response by taking hold of possession, their will to push for the equaliser inevitably exposed them to the visitors’ counter, which almost led to a second for Dortmund when Bynoe-Gittens cut inside from the left only to fire well above the bar.
The Rossoneri’s steady presence inside Dortmund‘s half only resulted to a string of crosses that were somehow dealt with by the opposing defenders, but Edin Terzic‘s side kept looking threatening on the break.
It was clear that AC Milan needed a moment of brilliance to bounce back and it suddenly came from Chukwueze, who dribbled his way from the right and, once on his left foot, fired a low shot into the far corner for his first goal in the Rossoneri shirt.
The leveller had San Siro rocking again and when Calabria was found at the far post by Christian Pulisic‘s pinpoint cross the crowd held its breath, only to see the full-back’s header go wide on the stroke of half-time.
Bynoe-Gittens and Adeyemi fire Dortmund into Champions League last 16
Picking up from where he had left off in the first half, Chukwueze‘s liveliness remained in the opening minutes of the second half, with the hosts’ threats mainly coming as a result of his work on the right.
Milan‘s worrying injury record worsened on the 50th-minute mark, when Malick Thiaw limped off the pitch forcing Stefano Pioli, who was left with no defenders on the bench, to replace him with midfielder Rade Krunic.
When it looked like both teams were focusing on conserving energy with a view to the final stretch of the game, Dortmund struck again with a beautifully worked move that involved Niclas Fullkrug, Marcel Sabitzer and eventually Bynoe-Gittens, whose first-time finish stunned Mike Maignan at the near post.
Substitute Karim Adeyemi inflicted the final blow to the hosts’ hopes of restoring the balance, clinically finishing another lethal counterattack from the edge of the box.
With many of the home fans walking their way out of the stadium even 15 minutes before the final whistle, there was little interest as Luka Jovic and Fullkrug hit the woodwork in the dying moments of the game, leaving the scoreline unchanged.
Even should the Rossoneri manage to snatch a victory at Newcastle on Matchday 6, their destiny would still be out of their hands as they would need Dortmund to beat Paris Saint-Germain.