Europa League: AC Milan Held By Star Belgrade

By Ibrahim Taiwo, The Nigerian Voice Sports
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AC Milan had to settle for a 2-2 draw at 10-man Red Star Belgrade in a pulsating Europa League round of 32 first-leg clash on Thursday after the home team's striker Milan Pavkov grabbed a stoppage-time equaliser.

Milan led 1-0 and 2-1 thanks to a Radovan Pankov own goal and a Theo Hernandez penalty but Red Star, who had Milan Rodic sent off in the 76th minute, hit back through a Guelor Kanga penalty and Pavkov's last-gasp header.

With one eye on Sunday's Serie A derby against Inter, Milan coach Stefan Pioli played a makeshift side as he left striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and several other first-choice players on the bench.

"I fielded the best team available and we had high hopes of winning but it's still a result that works for us ahead of the return leg (next Thursday)," Pioli told a news conference.

"We should have managed possession better in the closing stages but our passes went astray and we got punished."

Milan had two goals ruled out after VAR checks in the opening 12 minutes and missed several chances before Pankov stabbed the ball past his goalkeeper Milan Borjan in the 42nd minute as he tried to cut out a low cross.

Red Star equalised in the 51st minute when Alessio Romagnoli handled the ball in his area and Kanga drilled the spot-kick into the bottom right corner.

The visitors restored their lead on the hour as Pankov fouled Hernandez and the left back sent Borjan the wrong way with a clinical penalty.

Borjan made two good saves either side of Rodic's dismissal for two bookable fouls and Red Star took full advantage in the dying seconds.

They won a corner and Pavkov, who scored twice in Red Star's 2-0 win over Liverpool in a 2018-19 Champions League group stage match at the same venue, rose above a cluster of players to head home the equaliser.

Red Star manager Dejan Stankovic, who won the 2010 Champions League with Inter as a player, was pleased. (Reuters)