Franck Kessie stars in AC Milan’s 1-1 draw with Crvena Zvezda as the Rossoneri advance through to the Round of 16 of the UEFA Europa League.

AC Milan advances to the next round of the UEFA Europa League thanks to a 1-1 draw at home with Crvena Zvezda. The draw takes the aggregate score to 3-3, with the hosts advancing due to the away goal rule, having netted twice at the Red Star Stadium back in Belgrade, a week ago.

The Rossoneri had a dream start to the game when a handball from Marko Gobejlic forced the referee to award a penalty, which was converted by Franck Kessie. However, the goal was quickly cancelled out by a stunning strike from El Fardou Ben in the 24th minute, although Milan did come back into the game during the late stages of the half.

After the restart, the hosts tried to add more offensive firepower to their ranks as Stefano Pioli introduced the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Theo Hernandez and Ante Rebic in search of a goal. But, the Serie A giants failed to find anymore breakthroughs, although Rebic did miss a glorious scoring opportunity.

Crvena would have also scored had it not been for a dream save from Gianluigi Donnarumma as Milan somehow managed to hold on to their away goal lead. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over their players.

Gianluigi Donnarumma: 7.5/10

Gianluigi made one unbelievable double save to deny Crvena Zvezda the winning goal. He remained solid throughout the course of the game, showcasing impressive positioning and saving his side’s blushes. A top-notch display in between the sticks from the Milan goalkeeper this evening.

Davide Calabria: 6.5/10

Operating in the more defensive full-back role, Davide Calabria stayed deep to aid the two centre-backs. However, his struggles going forward forced Milan to take him off midway through the second half as Stefano Pioli opted for more firepower and width going forward. The player did well defensively, though.

Alessio Romagnoli: 7/10

Alessio Romagnoli didn’t have a great time during the midway point of the first half. One could also expect a bit more command from the defensive leader, although he did well during the final phase of the game. The Italian’s impressive quality in the air made it difficult for Crvena to penetrate the Milan backline using crosses.

Fikayo Tomori: 7.5/10

Fikayo Tomori had an excellent game in the defensive third. He looked composed in possession while offering the imposing presence at the back that made life difficult for Diego Falcinelli. A solid display from the on-loan Chelsea defender, who was also quite strong in his tackles as he continues to impress at San Siro.

Diogo Dalot: 6.5/10

Diogo Dalot once again had an awful game in the AC Milan backline. The full-back couldn’t provide much quality forward, forcing Pioli to bring on Theo Hernandez midway through the second half. Dalot did improve as the game progressed, especially in the defensive department, but one could expect better quality from the Manchester United loanee.

Soualiho Meita: 6/10

Soualiho Meite couldn’t really dominate the midfield, as he was barely involved in the game. The midfielder also lacked fluency in his passing, amassing a pass completion rate of just over 70%. It ultimately didn’t bode well for the hosts, who had to invite pressure from the opposition for the majority of the second half. An ordinary performance.

Franck Kessie: 8/10

Franck Kessie had an excellent game in the middle of the park. He won the ball on multiple occasions, launching counter-attacks seconds after making impressive turnovers. Scored the crucial opening goal from the penalty spot. The Ivorian is indeed an indispensable figure in Milan’s midfield unit and it was quite on show this evening. Simply outstanding.

Samu Castillejo: 6.5/10

It was a poor performance from Samu Castillejo, who couldn’t live up to the standards he had set in the Europa League this season. The winger looked promising at times with the ball at his feet as Milan did start the game rather well. However, his influence waned, with the player eventually being taken off midway through the second half.

Rade Krunic: 6/10

A first-half performance that was dominated by sloppy touches and lack of involvement in the game. The midfielder struggled to become an effective source of creativity in the number 10 position, conjuring only 17 touches on the ball and was dispossessed six times. He was subbed off at half-time, much to no one’s surprise.

Hakan Calhanoglu: 6.5/10

Operating on the left flank to provide the additional creative essence for Milan going forward, Hakan Calhangolu couldn’t really impose his authority in the final third this evening. While the playmaker did make multiple touches, he failed to provide that penetration and it was far from his best performance.

Rafael Leao: 5/10

Much like Krunic, Rafael Leao had difficulties getting himself involved in the proceedings. He tried to make things happen but to no avail, amassing only eight touches on the ball. A poor performance once again from the young Portuguese forward, who was subbed off at half-time by Stefano Pioli.

Substitutes

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: 7/10

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was introduced at the start of the second half to offer a more robust presence in the number nine role. The Swede immediately improved Milan’s offensive game – making them far more competent in the hold-up play. Some of his runs were rather lazy while the forward could have also worked a bit more on his execution on the final deliveries, but at the age of 39, one can only do so much.

Ante Rebic: 5.5/10

Ante Rebic replaced Krunic to add more directness to Milan’s game. The former Eintracht Frankfurt man couldn’t really make the desired impact, though, notably missing a glorious opportunity to score a goal and seal the tie for the Rossoneri. An eventful yet ineffective performance from the Croat.

Theo Hernandez: 6/10

Theo Hernandez was brought on for Calabria in the 66th minute as Pioli opted for more firepower in the build-up play. The left-back offered freshness and energy to the table but didn’t do much going forward or defensively, for that matter.

Alexis Saelemaekers: 6.5/10

Alexis Saelemaekers had an interesting game after coming on for Castillejo in the 66th minute. The youngster looked promising, at times, but it appeared Ibrahimovic was demanding more from him, in terms of his decision-making. He did score a goal, but it was disallowed as Ibrahimovic was offside in the build-up.

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