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Manchester United vs AC Milan (1-1): Match Summary and Analysis

A significant away goal for the Italian side after United’s poor performance at home.

12/03/2021

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Alex Telles started at left-back, with E. Bailly partnering Maguire at the heart of the defence. Surprisingly, F. Rodrigues Santos was dropped as N. Matić, and S. McTominay played behind Bruno. D. James and M. Greenwood provided the width as Martial started down the middle.

As for the away side, on loan from S. Pioli's side, J. Dalot Teixeira started at left-back with Kjaer coming in for A. Romagnoli. Youngster Diaz started in the attacking midfield position with Leao upfront.

First-Half

The game had an intriguing start as Milan tried to ping Manchester United back. The Italian side were first to all the second balls, and United looked a bit leggy. The fast start to the game was followed by a VAR intervention as R. Conceição Leão’s goal was disallowed.

He ran in behind the United defence, and his powerful strike saw the ball go beyond D. Henderson. However, just after he scored, the assistant raised the flag, and a VAR check confirmed his offside position leading up to the goal.

United weren’t threatening the Milan defence enough. B. Borges Fernandes was struggling to get involved, and as a result, United struggled to get a foothold on the game. Although, with the individual talents they have, creating something out of nothing was not impossible. It was A. Martial who brought the first spark into the United attack after his volleyed effort. A lovely chest control was followed by a rather straight volley which G. Donnarumma saved.

Milan’s strong start continued and a moment of brilliance from F. Kessié saw the net bulged. A well-executed volley from a tight angle saw Henderson beaten on his right. However, a mandatory automatic VAR check happened. The review showed the touch on Kessie’s hand while he was controlling the ball before unleashing the strike. As a result, another Milan goal was ruled out. Inside the first quarter of an hour, Milan had the ball in the United goal twice. Still, unfortunately, both were disallowed for their respective reasons.

Manchester United were struggling to find the rhythm, and Milan were playing quick and precise football. Former Man City player B. Abdelkader Diaz had an excellent chance. However, his finish lacked conviction, making it easy for Henderson to save. This was followed by another Henderson save when he denied a powerful strike from A. Saelemaekers.

Against the run of play, United had a chance from a corner. It is still hard to believe how H. Maguire missed a chance from an angle where missing the target was difficult. The ball found its way to the far post, where Maguire had to apply the slightest of touches to give his side the lead against the run of play. However, the skipper misjudged the ball, and his touch had the ball struck the post and was cleared behind for another corner.

Second-Half

O. Solskjær replaced the reportedly injured Martial. The substitute was the highly-rated youngster and the brand new signing A. Traoré. Mason Greenwood shifted to the centre, and Diallo played from the right-wing.

It was an absolute dream start for Dillao as he bragged United’s goal with an intelligent run and a brilliantly timed header. Milan had only themselves to blame as they didn’t take their chances in the first half. A brilliant pick out from Fernandes and an excellent finish by the young boy at the Stretford end.

After being hit by an unexpected goal, Milan didn’t change their mindset, and they kept pushing for the equalizer. Quick passing and runs in behind were a constant theme of Milan’s offensive play. With 67 minutes on the clock, D. Calabria delivered a beautiful cross for R. Krunić, whose header was well off target.

With the weather taking a significant turn, Solskjær made three substitutions. Fred, B. Williams, and Shaw came in for Fernandes, James, and A. Wan-Bissaka. This change saw Willians take the right-back spot, A. Telles pushed forward to play as a left midfielder, and L. Shaw took his primary spot at the left side of the back four.

With Milan running out of time, they kept pushing for the all-important away goal. In the second minute of added time, the Italians had a corner, which seemed like the last chance to get on the scoresheet. S. Thorup Kjær headed for the equalizing goal as Henderson’s touch wasn’t enough to keep the ball out.

Fixture Details: Manchester United vs Milan (11/03/2021)

Overall Assessment

Overall, a poor display from Manchester United as they were fortunate to not conceding in the first half. If they continue like this in the away leg, then the consequences could be damaging. A higher intensity will be required in the press as well as more precision to their passing will be necessary.

As for Milan, a brilliant performance, but the result could have been much better. With all the injuries to their star players, the performance level will have to stay the same for the home leg. However, a bit more finesse in front of the goal could take them to the quarter-finals.