A proud Milan, owner of the game until Kessié was sent off after half an hour of play, had Atlético de Madrid on the ropes, winner in the last minutes from the lustrous squad managed by Simeone. With one less, the Italian team fell due to attrition, but before they had overwhelmed with a fascinating first half hour and then they resisted until the last breath.
Milan is back, announced the fans in a mosaic that covered the south curve of San Siro. And seven years after their last European Cup match at the San Siro, the daring Stefano Pioli team unleashed a gale that swept away Atlético in the first half hour. The stands roared, ecstatic watching his team mistreat the Spanish champion under the skin that made him dominate European football in the late 1980s. Crippling pressure and vertical transitions with each ball steal, almost always caused by the slowness of Atlético’s midfielders and generalized rude losses.
Atlético did not leave their field, shaken and without response capacity. Intimidated by the physical power of Kessié and intimidated by the waist and the fine pass of Brahim Díaz. The man from Malaga even prevailed in several disputes that he turned into conductions that tensed Felipe and Giménez. In one of them, short and explosive, he planted Leão in front of Oblak. The Slovenian emerged victorious, deflecting the shot with his leg. On the next play, continuation of the corner kick, Brahim took the colors out of Koke on the side of the area and his center back was cornered by Leão with a low shot that surpassed Oblak. San Siro exploded, reliving glorious times.
In that frantic pace that Milan imposed, Atlético was portrayed. They were two teams of displacement so different that they did not seem to play the same sport. Neither Kondogbia nor Koke were imposed to sleep the game and the speed necessary to do damage in attack questioned whether Luis Suárez is for this kind of high-voltage matches.
Buried by the atmosphere and tamped down by the local game, the expulsion of Kessié for a double yellow opened the game for Atlético, which was on the way to a historical review. A long kick from goal Maignan was enough for Leão to embarrass Giménez and Felipe with a control and a Chilean who crashed off the crossbar. The assistant raised the flag, but had the acrobatic shot entered the VAR could have conceded the goal. From that scare, Simeone began to pull the luxurious wardrobe that he reserved. Immediate was the change of João Félix by Trippier. Pioli protected himself by retiring Rebic and putting Tonali in. At halftime, Atlético left ruminating on a failed volley by Luis Suárez.
The display of muscle on the bench did not have truce on the part of Atlético. Simeone got Lodi and De Paul, who would end up adding Griezmann and Lemar. An entire offensive arsenal that had to face another Milan, now already spreading all the defensive and management culture of the times of the calcium.
A frank header from Luis Suárez misdirected, a distant shot from Kondogbia and a foray from João Félix culminating in a right hand hitting the back of a Milanese defender around the equalizer. He defended Milan as best he could, cheered by his fans, fired up with each clearance or each crossing that prevented the progression of Atlético.
Put in the opposite field, hoping that between so much talent together, for the first time Griezmann and João Félix coincided, a light bulb would light up, the equalizer reached six minutes from time. With Milan already panting, Lemar discovered a hallway for Lodi. And Griezmann came to the center of the Brazilian to hunt him down with a volley. The Frenchman’s first goal since his return was a relief for Atlético. The French striker will also benefit from his self-esteem.
Already launched for the victory, with Milan on the canvas, although Giroud gave a scare, Kalulu scraped a ball with his hand in a dispute with Lemar in the area. The referee signaled a penalty and it was ratified by the VAR. Suárez did not fail and certified a victory suffered because Milan put football first and then its great club lineage.