AC Milan kept their hopes of Europa League qualification on track, sharing the points with Real Betis in an entertaining 1-1 draw at the Estadio Benito Villamarin.
The Seville side opened the scoring early through the excellent Giovani Lo Celso, as they dominated the first-half proceedings.
Injury-ravaged Milan came out fighting in the second period and levelled things up just after the hour mark, a curling free-kick from bright spark Suso beating everyone to find the net, and from then on Gennaro Gattuso’s men were the more likely to find a winner.
Check out our breakdown of the game below.
Key Talking Point: Betis moved the ball beautifully in the first half, and after the deadlock was broken they came into their own and could have scored more goals, unbefitting of their 14th position in La Liga. Lo Celso and wing-back Junior Firpo were particularly potent down the left side.
As the half progressed they began to get sloppier with their passing. The second half knocked Betis out of their rhythm when met with the Milan fight-back and they struggled to be quite as threatening as the game opened up, but will probably be the happier of the two teams with the point.
Starting XI: Lopez (6); Feddal (7), Bartra (6), Mandi (6); Junior (8), Canales (6), William (7), Lo Celso (8), Tello (6); Joaquin (7), Sanabria (6).
Substitutes: Guardado (6) Loren (6)
STAR MAN: Giovani Lo Celso – He really steps up on European nights for Betis, excellent again, the focal point to his team’s attacks, and looked menacing all night. Took his goal really well.
WORST PLAYER: Feddal – Most of the Betis back three struggled with moving the ball out from the back but Feddal was most uncomfortable, often looking uneasy, particularly when Betis were under pressure in the second half.
Key Talking Point: Gennaro Gattuso’s men looked off the pace in the first half, really lacking an attacking impetus. The midfield, particularly Kessie and Bakayoko, did not give the forwards any service and Betis simply looked hungrier and the more energetic of the sides.
Football really is a game of two halves though, as Milan emerged looking like a different team in the second half, always looking the more likely to go on and win the game. Milan exploited Betis’ uneasiness on the ball at the back and Gattuso should be given credit for changing systems at half time.
Starting XI: Reina (5); Rodriguez (6), Zapata (6), Mussachio (6), Laxalt (7); Calhanoglu (6), Bakayoko (5), Kessie (6), Borini (6), Cutrone (6), Suso (7).
Substitutes: Abate (6) Bertolacci (6) Romagnoli (6)
STAR MAN: Suso – One of the few players who gave Milan energy and purpose in the first half. His goal was a justified reward and helped drag his side back into the contest. Was the catalyst for an improved Milan.
WORST PLAYER: Fabio Borini – Particularly in the first half, Borini, a striker by trade, was run ragged when deployed at right wing-back by the left-sided duo of Junior and Lo Celso. A change in system by his manager ensured his attacking threat was used more but was weak defensively all night.
Looking ahead: Both teams have equally daunting games coming up in the league.The Rossoneri face champions Juventus in their next Serie A game while Betis must travel to the Nou Camp and face Barcelona in La Liga.