Under the eyes of Paolo Maldini, Abate’s team passes the round and is now waiting for the winner between Genk and Atletico Madrid
At Zeroli’s goal, the shot is collective. He runs, proud and proud of having brought Milan to the quarter-finals of the Youth League, his teammates run and the whole bench jumps up, making sixty meters of pitch to go and hug him. Only Ignazio Abate remains still, impassive, only letting himself go at the end of the game. The Rossoneri beat the Ukrainians of Rukh Lviv 1-0 and leap to the next round, where they will find the winner between Genk and Atletico Madrid. At Vismara, where about forty Ukrainian fans stand out with yellow-blue flags and scarves, Kevin Zeroli’s goal decides in the second half, good at jumping higher than anyone else. Mission accomplished under the eyes of Paolo Maldini, Frederic Massara and Giorgio Furlani, present in the stands to view the boys.
Milan trembles, thanks a disallowed goal, stings several times and finally sinks. The most important occasions happen to Stalmach – twice close to the lead in the first half – Foglio, El Hilali and Traoré, one of the most dangerous. In the 20th minute he dribbled away at Roman with a good play in the strait and fell to the ground, but the referee let it go. In the second half, he nearly took the lead by sending a cross from the left into the outside of the net. In the end, however, Zeroli takes care of it, before a sensational failed opportunity by El Hilali face to face with Hereta. The attacker throttles his right foot and fails to double up, but it doesn’t affect the result. Milan ahead, Ukrainians out with their heads held high. Mister Ponomarov, almost always caught walking up and down the line out with his hands in the pockets of his jacket, fails to throw out the two Milanese players (he had eliminated Inter in the play-offs).
At every guest occasion the Ukrainian fans stand up. In the stands there is also Valeriy Fedorchuk, midfielder of the first team of Rukh. In 2015 he played in the Europa League final as a starter after eliminating Benitez’s Napoli. In the first half Panchenko scores with his back-heel and blows up all of Vismara’s sector 3, but the referee disallows for offside. In the final, the team goes to get the applause of the Ukrainians present in the stadium, almost all with the flags and the home colours. Rukh is the team from Lviv, in the west of the country. In December, he played his first match after the resumption of the championship against Metalist Kharkiv. The match was stopped three times due to air raid warnings. They walk out with their heads held high, to applause.
It was also a special day for Andriy Shevchenko, Ukrainian and AC Milan player. Before the kick-off, the Vismara loudspeakers broadcast a message that the former striker wanted to write. Here is the text: “Hello everyone, I’m Andriy Shevchenko, on behalf of myself and Milan I have the pleasure of welcoming you to the Vismara Sports Center – Puma House of Football for the round of 16 of the UEFA Youth League. It will be a great experience that I wish to enjoy to the fullest, I recommend that the public cheer in a positive way because this is a real sports festival Today more than ever the values represented by football such as respect and fair play must be the basis for a future of peace. To you guys and the staff of Ruh Lviv, forced to play away from your pitch even the home matches, goes the warm embrace of the Rossoneri world, and my personal one as a Ukrainian citizen. Let’s always remember that we are only opponents on the pitch. Let’s enjoy this match with passion and joy.”
February 28 – 5.49pm
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