Five talking points as Milan held by Juventus after contentious late penalty

Milan Juventus Rebic

Milan have it all to do in the second leg of our Coppa Italia semi-final tie with Juventus after a 1-1 draw in the first meeting on Thursday night.

Ante Rebic was on the mark again as we took the lead just after the hour mark, but Theo Hernandez saw red minutes later before Cristiano Ronaldo struck in injury time from the penalty spot.

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It came after a controversial decision, but with an away goal and a string of suspensions to deal with, the odds will be stacked against Milan in the return leg in Turin on March 4.

Controversial decision

Sadly, the second Paolo Valeri went to check the incident again, it was obvious he was going to award the penalty. It was the expected outcome, and while we can all bemoan the decision, it was ultimately given and Juve have their away goal.

Given Davide Calabria’s proximity to the ball and the fact that he had his back to it at the time it struck his arm, there is surely no common sense in awarding the penalty. Perhaps that’s just a biased opinion.

Take away the fact that it was Juventus and strip it down to the incident in isolation, it’s baffling to understand the thought process of VAR and Valeri to change their mind and give the penalty, or perhaps it’s the rules that they’re following which need to be looked at again.

No Ibra, Samu or Theo for second leg

To make the challenge even more difficult next month, Milan will be without the suspended trio of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Samu Castillejo and Theo Hernandez.

Ultimately, it has to be seen as an opportunity for others to step in, and with quality on the bench waiting to be given a chance, this is their time to step up and deliver.

Our task has undoubtedly become more difficult with that influential trio unavailable, but we deserved a win on Thursday night and if we show the same determination, commitment and desire, we’ll give ourselves a chance of advancing.

Rebic continues to deliver

Few, if any, fans would have predicted Ante Rebic walking off to a standing ovation from the Milan faithful a few months ago.

The 26-year-old struggled through the opening months of the season, and it even raised question marks over whether or not he would last the duration of his loan spell.

He deserves an enormous amount of credit though for turning things around as that’s now five goals and an assist in 15 appearances for us, and it’s hoped that he can continue to show consistency and score vital goals.

Good reaction after derby defeat

There is little doubt that the dressing room would have been dejected and bereft of confidence after our second half performance against Inter.

A response was needed, and while we did allow Juventus to dictate the tempo and possession for too long at times, we showed the right spirit needed in a game like this to secure a positive result.

That arguably says a lot about the character in this squad, and it’s just a real shame and a huge disappointment that we couldn’t get the result that we deserved on the night.

Bennacer a rock in midfield

It seems like a very simple formula to success for Milan. When we play at a high tempo, play short and sharp passes and go more direct, we can cause teams problems.

We saw that in the first half against Inter and at the start of each respective half against Juventus before tailing off and letting both sides back into the game.

At the heart of that quick, penetrative football is Ismael Bennacer. While he did get sloppy in the latter stages, his defensive coverage in front of the backline coupled with his ability to just get on with things without slowing down our play is making him a stand-out performer every time he’s on the pitch.