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Atlético beats 10-man AC Milan 2-1 with late comeback
29/09/2021 10:37:59

MILAN (AP) — Luis Suárez converted a stoppage-time penalty after Antoine Griezmann scored his first goal since returning to Atlético Madrid as the Spanish team fought back to beat 10-man AC Milan 2-1 in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Griezmann leveled six minutes from time and Atlético was awarded a penalty that Suárez struck confidently down the middle in the seventh minute of stoppage with the last of the visitor’s 22 shots.

“I hope to get to my best level as quickly as possible,” said Griezmann, who returned to Atlético from Barcelona ”(There’s been) a lot of changes: it (the transfer) was done on the last day and it’s different tactics, a different dressing room, another way of playing.

“In the end it’s a lot of changes. Everything is different,” he continued. “I have to get used to it as quickly as possible because the coach and my teammates need me. Nights like this are going to help me to get better.”

Milan was forced to play for an hour with 10 men after midfielder Franck Kessié was sent off for a second bookable offense. That came shortly after Rafael Leão had given the Italian squad the lead in the 20th minute.

“Let’s just say the referee wasn’t the best one on the field tonight,” Milan coach Stefano Pioli said.

Atlético remained second in Group B, two points behind Liverpool after the English team beat Porto 5-1. Milan is last with zero points from its opening two matches.

“There’s disappointment because we were close to an important result,” Pioli said. “Instead, the table is getting complicated. But this performance should give us confidence. For half an hour we played great soccer, then clearly the match changed with the sending off. When we had the same number of players, we played clearly better than our opponent.”

It was Milan’s first home match in the Champions League in more than seven years — when it lost 1-0 at San Siro to coincidentally the same opponent in the round of 16.

The Rossoneri fans were in fine voice and had plenty to cheer about as Milan got off to an aggressive start and Atlético struggled to deal with its opponent’s energy and dynamism.

Brahim Díaz was at the heart of most of Milan’s attacks and the young midfielder, who is on loan from Real Madrid, came close to giving the Rossoneri the lead in the 17th minute but fired straight at Atlético goalkeeper Jan Oblak.

Ante Rebić went even closer two minutes later when he was sent clear by Díaz and had only the goalkeeper to beat but Oblak managed to push his effort wide.

Milan did take the lead moments later following another good move by Díaz, who then laid it off to Leão and the forward took one touch before driving it into the bottom left corner.

The closest Atlético came in the opening half hour was when former Inter Milan midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia blasted an effort high over the crossbar from a good position.

But disaster struck when Kessié received a somewhat harsh second booking and was sent off.

Milan almost doubled its lead in spectacular fashion as Leão attempted an overhead kick from distance and his effort crashed off the underside of the crossbar.

Atlético went close with the last kick of the half as Suárez volleyed wide from nine yards out.

The Spanish team hadn’t scored in its past three matches in the competition and its struggles in front of goal continued in the second period, with Kondogbia and Suárez sending further attempts wide from good positions.

Díaz continued to be a thorn in Atlético’s side, even dribbling the ball out from defense on one occasion, and the 22-year-old got a standing ovation from the fans when he limped off in the 57th after sustaining a knock.

Atlético laid siege to the Milan goal and finally recorded its first shot on target 13 minutes from time when a Thomas Lemar snapshot from distance was beaten away by Mike Maignan.

And it took the lead shortly after as a cross was headed back across goal by Renan Lodi and Griezmann was there to volley it into the bottom left corner.

The comeback was complete when Pierre Kalulu was whistled for a handball and Suárez did the rest.

It was Suárez’s first European goal for the club and his first Champions League goal away from home since scoring for Barcelona against Roma in 2015 — a run of 25 matches.

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