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AC Milan scores its first goals in CL group to beat PSG

AC Milan AC Milan celebrate - The Canadian Press

MILAN (AP) — AC Milan scored for the first time in this season’s Champions League to beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 in a hugely entertaining match on Tuesday and leave Group F wide open.

Rafael Leão and Olivier Giroud scored early in each half to help Milan recover from conceding a ninth-minute opener to former Inter Milan defender Milan Škriniar and give their team its first group win.

There were chances galore in an end-to-end match at San Siro played at a breathless pace.

“The first half was fantastic as a soccer spectacle, because there were two teams that were trying to score goals, trying to win,” Milan coach Stefano Pioli said.

Milan, which lost 3-0 at PSG two weeks ago, started the day bottom of its group.

Borussia Dortmund beat Newcastle 2-0 in the other match and now leads the group with seven points. The German team is a point above PSG, two above Milan and three above Newcastle.

It was also a morale-boosting win for Milan, which had lost three of its last four matches in all competitions, drawing the other one, and had only scored two goals in that period.

“If we want to become a top team at home and in Europe, we have to try and up our level and have more consistency,” Pioli said. "After disappointing performances we had the reaction I was expecting, because I know my players well.

“Now we have to try to be consistent, because there is still a lot of work to do, in Serie A and in the Champions League … the next match, at home against Dortmund, will be pretty much decisive."

Milan's final group match will be at Newcastle. PSG plays Newcastle at home next and then travels to Dortmund.

“We knew it would be difficult if we didn’t win today, but we shouldn’t let up. Everything is still in our hands to qualify,” PSG captain Marquinhos said.

“Their second goal changed the match because we were doing well up until then. But then we had more difficulty finding the spaces. We know the Italian school of soccer. Once we were behind, they defended well.”

The match in Milan marked the first time Gianluigi Donnarumma had played at San Siro since leaving the Rossoneri on a free transfer two years ago and joining PSG. And the Italy goalkeeper got a predictably hostile reception at the stadium where he was once a beloved player.

Donnarumma made more than 250 appearances for Milan after breaking into the team when he was 16.

As well as booing the 24-year-old Donnarumma and chanting offensive songs about him, Milan fans had also printed out thousands of fake dollar notes with his face on and the word “Dollarumma.”

The noise level ramped up when Donnarumma ran toward the end in front of the hardcore Milan fans at the start of the match and the notes began to rain down in earnest, covering the area around his goal.

Milan should have taken the lead in the sixth minute when Leão skipped down the left and put in a tantalizing cross for an unmarked Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who ballooned over the bar from a good position.

PSG was not so forgiving when the Milan defense was caught napping three minutes later. Marquinhos nodded on a corner and Škriniar, who was left completely unmarked, crouched down to head it in from close range.

However, Milan leveled in impressive fashion just three minutes later. Leão charged down the center of the field and spread the ball to Giroud. His angled drive was parried by Donnarumma but Leão scored the rebound with an acrobatic overhead kick.

It was Milan's first goal in the competition since scoring against Napoli last season in the quarterfinals in April. The seven-time champion lost 3-0 on aggregate to Inter in the semifinals.

Both teams continued to rack up the chances. Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan had to be quick off his line to smother at Kylian Mbappé's feet following a great pass from Ousmane Dembelé, who also hit the crossbar in the 27th minute.

Giroud and Leão sent efforts narrowly wide at the other end.

And it was the veteran France forward who gave Milan the lead five minutes into the second half. Leão couldn’t get on the end of Christian Pulisic's cross from the left but Theo Hernández crossed it back in for a towering Giroud header.

Hernández almost got on the scoresheet himself — against the team his brother Lucas plays for — but his free kick was kept out by a flying save from Donnarumma.

PSG came close to snatching a late equalizer but Lee Kang-in's effort came off the outside of the right post.


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