Milan kept their Champions League campaign alive as a late goal from substitute Junior Messias earned them a dramatic 1-0 victory over Atletico Madrid.
Stefano Pioli’s side were staring elimination in the face before Messias rose to meet Franck Kessie’s cross in the 87th minute and converted to send the travelling supporters into raptures at the Wanda Metropolitano.
The goal clinched Milan’s first victory in this season’s competition and moved them ahead of Atletico in Group B with one game left to play.
Atletico boss Diego Simeone had seen his side frustrate Milan for over 80 minutes before their hopes of qualifying were thrown up in the air, and any one of Porto, Milan or Atletico can still reach the knockout stage along with group winners Liverpool.
3 golden points: we’re still in the race lads, c’monnn!
Atletico’s compact defence frustrated Olivier Giroud throughout the first half, in which the best chance fell to Theo Hernandez, who blazed over the crossbar on the half-volley from 12 yards out.
Thomas Lamar tested Ciprian Tatarusanu with a low drive early in the second half and Milan spurned a chance to take the lead when Simon Kjaer headed narrowly over the crossbar from Hernandez’s cross.
The introduction of Zlatan Ibrahimovic lifted Milan and Tiemoue Bakayoko had a shot blocked on the line before the Swede went clean through only to have his shot from eight yards saved by Jan Oblak, after which an offside flag went up.
With three minutes left on the clock, Kessie broke down the left and delivered a sublime cross that found Messias unmarked and the Brazilian headed the ball down into the corner of the net.
Marcos Llorente put the ball on a plate for Matheus Cunha at the other end but he fired wide from point-blank range as Atletico’s night ended in frustration.
What does it mean? All to play for in Group B
Liverpool are already confirmed as Group B winners, but the rest of the group will be determined in the final round of matches and Atletico are currently bottom on goal difference, while Milan are third.
Kessie makes the difference
After being sent off in the previous meeting between the two teams, Kessie made amends with a sensational assist for the goal and also won five of his eight duels as Milan battled hard for the win.
Suarez kept quiet
Atletico made defending their focus but could still have expected more from their strikers, with Luis Suarez failing to muster an attempt at goal before being substituted.
Key Opta Facts
– Atletico Madrid have lost three consecutive Champions League games for the first time, also losing back-to-back home games in the competition for the first time.
– Milan have beaten Atletico in European competition for the first time, having lost their previous three encounters. It is also the first time they have beaten Spanish opposition in the Champions League since February 2013 (2-0 against Barcelona).
– Atletico Madrid are winless in six Champions League home games (D3 L3), failing to score in four of those games – they had only failed to score in four of their previous 35 at home in the competition.
– Milan are the first Italian side to win away from home in European competition against Atletico since Parma in the UEFA Cup in April 1999 (3-1).
Milan face Liverpool at San Siro in a game that means much more to the hosts than the visitors, while Atletico travel to Porto for a crunch match that will determine both sides’ fate.
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