AC Milan have a slight edge heading into the second leg of their UEFA Champions League Play-Off tie following a 1-1 draw with PSV Eindhoven at the Philips Stadion.
PSV played well throughout the first half, but fell behind when Stephane El Shaarawy nodded in Ignazio Abate’s cross after 15 minutes.
The home side continued to play their football and pulled level when Tim Matavz nodded in from Christian Abbiati’s fumble and the tie is in the balance ahead of the second leg at the San Siro.
Before kick-off, pundits highlighted this game as PSV’s youthful potential against Milan’s European experience and the first half portrayed that theory. The home side could have been in front inside the first minute but Adam Maher’s deflection from Matavz’s shot took the ball agonisingly wide with Abbiati beaten in the Milan goal. Just after, the veteran goalkeeper was forced into a comfortable save from Memphis Depay’s low shot as PSV started brightly.
Park Ji Sung is back in Eindhoven after a successful stint in the Premier League but he wasted a good chance to put his side in front in the eighth minute. Jetro Williams’ fizzed cross allowed the South Korean enough space to go for goal, but he chose to lay it off for Georginio Wijnaldum and the Dutchman’s powerful low shot from the edge of the box was saved by Abbiati.
The missed chances proved vital as Milan grabbed an important away goal in the 15th minute. Depay was caught on the ball in the defensive position and Abate strode forward to clip in a cross that the unmarked El Shaarawy expertly nodded in at the near post. It was a bad mistake from Depay, but Milan showed ruthlessness in attack by taking advantage.
It was nearly a double-whammy as Milan hit the crossbar just a minute after going in front. Mario Balotelli let fly with a curling shot from 25 yards, but Przemyslaw Tyton, the PSV goalkeeper, pulled off a stunning fingertip save to take the ball onto the frame of the goal. It was very unlucky for the Italian striker but the goalkeeper deserves the praise for a fantastic save.
Maher was proving to be the Dutch side’s most dangerous asset and he demanded another smart save from Abbiati after finding a yard of space 25 yards out. The goalkeeper continued to win the duel with Maher after the attacking midfielder leapt onto a good chipped pass and fired at goal in the 32nd minute. There was still time in the first half for Maher to hit the woodwork. Matavz was integral in the build-up and Maher showed good skill to skip past Phillipe Mexes and unleash a powerful effort but he was unlucky to see it ping back off the crossbar.
Milan started the second half well and could have doubled their lead in the 50th minute. Balotelli linked up with El Shaarawy nicely and the winger raced through on goal, but pulled his shot under pressure from the on-rushing Tyton. It was good goalkeeping from the PSV man, but it was the opposite of that from Abbiati that gifted PSV an equaliser.
Jeffrey Bruma, an ex-Leicester City player, unleashed a swerving shot from close to 35 yards that should have been comfortably saved by the Milan goalkeeper but Abbiati fumbled the ball and Matavz was on hand to nod in the rebound. It was a costly mistake but the Philips Stadion was rocking again.
PSV tried to push on and win the game, but missed a glorious opportunity to go in front in the 75th minute. Wijnaldum’s cross picked out the unmarked Karim Rekik who was six yards out. Unfortunately for the home faithful, the defender got his header wrong and it drifted well wide. It was a bad miss as the chances started to become few and far between. Milan had their own big chance before the full-time whistle, but another good save from Tyton kept it level. M’baye Niang did well to play in Andrea Poli, but the debutant’s shot rose into a comfortably height for the goalkeeper and a powerful forearm deflected the ball over for a corner.
Match Report by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)