Tuesday, November 12, 2019

AC Milan 0-1 Benfica: Aguias close on ICC title thanks to Taarabt strike

SoccerNews in Serie A 28 Jul 2019

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Adel Taarabt’s deflected effort against his former side saw Benfica edge AC Milan 1-0 to maintain their 100 per cent record in the International Champions Cup and move top of the table.

The entertaining contest in Massachusetts provided the Serie A side with a real test, but a combination of unimpressive finishing and fine goalkeeping from Odisseas Vlachodimos saw the Rossoneri fall short.

Milan looked excellent at times in the first half and crafted a host of opportunities, but they were unable to find a way past the supreme Vlachodimos, who produced a string of impressive saves.

Marco Giampaolo’s men remained the more threatening side after the interval, in spite of Benfica’s relative improvement, but a fortuitous Taarabt effort ultimately proved decisive.

The result leaves Milan bottom without a point after two games, while Benfica’s ICC campaign comes to a close with a strong chance of them winning the competition, with only Manchester United still able to join them on a maximum nine points.

A dominant Milan first went close in the 16th minute, as Hakan Calhanoglu struck the post from distance and Suso wasted the follow-up chance.

Opportunities started to come thick and fast for Milan, but Vlachodimos put up stern resistance, saving from Samu Castillejo and Fabio Borini in a 10-minute spell.

Krzysztof Piatek then shot just wide from close range in the 43rd minute and Benfica nearly capitalised twice – Gabriel Pires testing Gianluigi Donnarumma from 25 yards, before the goalkeeper also thwarted Rafa at the end of a brilliant move.

Milan resumed their pressure early in the second half, but yet again Vlachodimos was unbeatable – the Greece international tipping over a Castillejo strike after the former Villarreal attacker dazzled the Benfica defence.

The Serie A giants were made to rue their profligacy when Benfica finally opened the scoring 20 minutes from time, Taarabt’s 20-yard strike taking a huge deflection on its way past half-time substitute Pepe Reina.

Milan almost forced a penalty shoot-out, but Lucas Biglia’s fine free-kick strike crashed against the crossbar and Benfica held on.

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