Although they came into the 2022/23 Champions League season as Serie A champions, AC Milan’s European campaign again got off to an underwhelming start as they were only able to manage a 1-1 draw on the road at RB Salzburg on Tuesday night. They had to come from behind, too, with Alexis Saelemaekers levelling things up after the hosts had scored first.
Milan fell way short of expectations in last season’s Champions League, though with Atletico Madrid and Liverpool both being two of the other teams in their group, they were always going to find it tough. That and knowing that they had a real chance at the Scudetto in the absence of having to manage European and domestic football made their premature exit a little easier to swallow.
More Champions League disappointment for AC Milan
The Italian champions fell behind in the first half, and neither Pierre Kalulu nor Mike Maignan will want to watch back the replays of Noah Okafor’s striker. The Salzburg man was able to nutmeg both, leaving each with egg on their face, first beating Kalulu and then slotting through Maignan’s legs to find the net.
Fortunately for Stefano Pioli and his side, though, that was as bad as it got.
Saelemaekers the unlikely hero for AC Milan
Alexis Saelemaekers was back in the AC Milan XI on the night and he repaid the faith shown in him by Stefano Pioli as he struck a leveller with five mintues of the first half remaining.
The goal was Saelemaekers‘ but it was a fine team effort that saw it come to be. Rafael Leao was, of course, involved. It was he who got down the left and his centred pass that picked out Saelemaekers to set himself up and finish beneath a jumping Olivier Giroud who sought to get out of the way.
Leao nearly won it in the 94th minute but his deflected effort came back off the post.