AC Milan 1-2 Atletico Madrid: Bizarre refereeing decisions cost 10-man Rossoneri

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan showed tremendous spirit to hang on for as long as they did with 10 men, but ultimately succumbed a lead to Atletico Madrid in the closing stages.

Milan started the game like a team who were possessed and took a deserved lead inside the first half with a precise strike into the bottom corner, with the Rossoneri swarming the away side every time they got the ball.

The turning point in the game came before the half time whistle though as Franck Kessie saw red for a second yellow card, though questions have to be asked of the referee’s decision making.

The equaliser came through substitute Antoine Griezmann after waves of attacks from the LaLiga champions with what was an excellent volley, but the referee was again the centre of attention for awarding a late handball.

After a lengthy VAR check the penalty decision stood and Luis Suarez tucked it away to ensure Milan remain on zero points and the away team went back to the Spanish capital with all three points.

Head coach Stefano Pioli made four changes to the starting line-up from the win over Spezia as Davide Calabria, Ismael Bennacer, Brahim Diaz and Rafael Leao came back into the starting XI.

The home side seemed to ride the atmosphere that a raucous crowd of almost 40,000 were providing, pressing high up the field as challenges flew in from both teams making for an exciting but scrappy opening.

There was almost an opening for Milan inside the eighth minute when a sloppy giveaway from Atletico Madrid was seized by Leao, who released a ball in behind the defence that Rebic was about to get onto before a vital clearance from Oblak.

The visiting side had half appeals for a penalty when a ball was stabbed through onto the arm of Tomori, but his arms were down by his side and a VAR check was concluded quickly.

Early intensity was certainly the order for the day, and in the 12th minute Tomori became the latest to fire on when Milan won the ball back half way in the Atleti half though his effort sailed wide from 30 yards.

Brahim Diaz will have hoped to have done better a few minutes later when he seized possession inside the Atletico half before dribbling forward and shooting straight into the arms of Oblak with options to the left and right.

With just shy of 20 minutes on the clock, Milan squandered a huge chance to go 1-0 up as Rebic was put through on goal after a fantastic through ball from Brahim Diaz, but Oblak produced a fantastic save with his leg to deny the Croatian.

From the resulting corner however, it would be 1-0 to the Rossoneri as they got the opener their early pressure deserved. Brahim did fantastically to hang onto the ball before squaring to Leao in space, who set himself before sweeping a sweet shot with his right foot into the bottom corner.

There was a game changing moment just before the half-hour mark as Franck Kessie picked up his second yellow card in quick succession after what looked like another very harsh decision from Cüneyt Çakır the referee.

Pioli responded with a change a few minutes later as Rebic was sacrificed for Sandro Tonali in an attempt to shore up the midfield department after Kessie’s dismissal, with the Croatian forward also on a booking for protesting the red.

The crossbar was rattled eight minutes from the break with an absolutely incredible overhead kick from Leao when he wasup against two men inside the box, though the offside flag ensured that any awe would have been cut short.

Diego Simeone responded with a change of his own when Joao Felix game of for Kieran Trippier, who had taken a bit of a kicking in the first 40 minutes of action.

Atletico had the final chance of the first half as a cross from the right wing was hooked towards goal by Luis Suarez, with the Uruguay international getting a sweet connection but diverting it wide with Maignan rooted.

Simeone looked to make the most of the man advantage by making a double change at the break, with Rodrigo De Paul and Renan Lodi coming on for Carrasco and Hermoso respectively.

The second half started as though it was going to be a game of defence versus attack, and Luis Suarez wasted a huge chance to level the game eight minutes in as he planted a free header from around the penalty spot wide of the post when it seemed harder to miss the net.

Not long before the hour mark Pioli made a double change to try and take a bit more of the sting out of the game, with Leao and Brahim Diaz making way for Olivier Giroud and Fode Ballo-Toure as the switch to a back six took hold.

A couple of changes followed from Los Rojiblancos as Antoine Griezmann and Thomas Lemar entered the fold with Koke and Kondogbia going off, as the latter had got himself into some trouble with the referee, being cautioned.

Atleti’s approached seemed to be one based around keeping possession on the edge of Milan’s box and hoping for some openings, and De Paul should have done better when he wound up to shot from 20 yards out, instead hitting the fans in the first tier.

There was yet another flash point in what was turning into a very aggressive and ill-natured game when Suarez tried to reach what he saw as a loose ball inside the box and dived for it knee-first, catching Maignan in the neck which provoked a very unhappy response.

Lemar tested Maignan inside the final 15 minutes as he locked onto the target and fired with his second touch from just outside the box, but he was able to parry fairly comfortably in the end.

With legs clearly tiring as the game wore on, Pioli made a final double change with 10 minutes to go as Saelemaekers and Bennacer came off for Pierre Kalulu and Alessandro Florenzi.

With six minutes left, the sucker punch came from Atletico Madrid and it came through the substitute Griezmann. A ball over to the far post was headed back into a dangerous area by Lodi and volleyed in at the near post with a superb finish as Maignan was mounted to the spot.

Milan found a burst of energy from somewhere and fashioned another chance with ten men as Florenzo charged onto a loose ball and sliced an effort towards the far corner that narrowly missed. It was the man on loan from Roma who found the roof of the net not long after, this time from 40 yards, but Oblak was never in trouble.

In the first of six minutes added on at the end of the game, Maignan produced a fantastic save to stop a turn and volley from Joao Feix.

The referee was again the centre of attention for awarding a late handball and a penalty to Atleti in the final seconds. After a lengthy VAR check that appeared to show Lemar push the ball into Kalulu with his arm if anything, the call stood and Suarez won the game.

Match details

AC Milan (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Calabria, Tomori, Romagnoli, Hernández; Bennacer (81′ Florenzi), Kessie; Saelemaekers (81′ Kalulu), Díaz (57′ Ballo-Touré), Leão (57′ Giroud); Rebić (34′ Tonali).

Subs: Jungdal, Tătărușanu; Gabbia; Maldini. Coach: Pioli.

Atletico Madrid (4-4-2): Oblak; Trippier (40′ João Félix), Felipe, Giménez, Hermoso (46′ Lodi); Llorente, Koke (61′ Griezmann), Kongodbia (64′ Lemar), Carrasco (46′ de Paul); Suárez, Correa.

Subs: Christian, Lecomte; Camus, Vrsaljko; Herrera; Cunha. Coach: Simeone.

Referee: Cüneyt Çakır (TUR)

Goal: 20′ Leão (M), 84′ Griezmann (A), 97′ Suárez (A).

Booked: 15′ Kessie (M), 29′ Rebić (M), 60′ Kongodbia (A), 69′ Hernández (M), 79′ Saelemaekers (M).

Sent off: 29′ Kessie (M).

Tags AC Milan Milan Atletico Madrid


  1. Fuck this ref, but… He didn’t cost us this game, it was Kessie and no one else.

    There is a silver lining though, they may ban Kessie for more than one game so Pioli can’t even think to play that motherfucker.

      1. We play Atalanta this weekend. Cut Pioli some slack, he had to rest the chap. Hopefully both him and Rebic will be raring to go this weekend.

        Refereeing decisions aside, Kessie was the domino that set off all the unfortunate events of this loss.

        1. It was a 10v12 game. Milan couldn’t have done anything but defend. These games have shown that Milan can still bounce back though that now also depends on other teams dropping points. Lets hope we get better referees n the next games

  2. The hate for Kessie runs deep, the referee cost us the game, nobody else. Horrendous red card and even worse penalty.

    Atletico were very mediocre. Almost embarrassing how bad they were considering their substitutions cost as much as our first team.

    1. Kessie does not deserve much empathy given that his “salary saga” has been dragging off for too long, while his performance has taken a deep dive. I still think that the red card was a bit too harsh.

    2. Yeah that second yellow was soft as fuck and that last minute penalty was ridiculous. I’m so mad I hope the club stand up for the boys and issue a statement about how inconsistent the ref was and admonish the VAR team for their lack of oversight.

    3. 1000%. The second yellow on Kessie was soft. Meanwhile, if you look at a play around the 90th minute Tonali takes a stamp on the foot and NOTHING was called. Kessie barely stepped on the Atletico player’s too. Absolute garbage refereeing.

      1. I was about to point that out!
        yeah….talking about double standards
        that bald twat can choke on his yellow cards…he’s probably Calhanoglu’s lost uncle

  3. Very disappointing result. I am sure we would have won if Kessie was not sent off. And the boys fought so well until that equalizer. Kessie’s performance has lately been subpar, and instead of asking for a huge (undeserved) pay rise, he should concentrate on playing football, or else he should be benched.

  4. İ am a Turkish but Cuneyt the match.. we need to harsh this athleticism to take revenge.. I could be sorry if we did not war. And bennacer was the commander.

  5. AC Milan gave everything they had in this game. The result leaves a bitter taste, the second yellow on Kessie was very questionable. The stomp on Tonali late in the game was more of yellow card than what Kessie got.

  6. Kessie was not bad at all this time but who calls this man a ref.. but the car refree? Shame on you uefa…. But also our substituting surprised me.

    1. Aside of his renewal saga, Kessie was not bad but he was the least good player. Everyone else was clearly better.
      Tonali is undoubtedly a step up at this moment, he is better in everything. It is not fair that Kessie starts over him.

      1. That’s what will cost us this season, ” this is Tonali’s season, without him in the starting ix , ,chances very high that by the time he come in , the game would have been lost.

  7. Why would let Pioli Kessie to play? He was total trash both in UCL clash against Liverpool and in Serie A fixtures. He is a saboteur! Just keep him away.
    Today we could easily win if there was Tonali instead.

  8. The referee’s decisions are one-sided. But it is Kessie who has cost Milan in the last few games, and tonight was the highlight. I suspect Kessie is trying to sabotage Milan. Plus Romagnoli who always and always sluggish when dealing with big teams. Both players can leave Milan, because after all, it looks like they really want to leave. However, the struggle of the other players must be appreciated. Great job anyway.. Forza Milan Per sempre

  9. Should not have been a red card and penalty imo.. what is everyone else thinking im not an expert, very sad and unlucky loss 🙁 Milan dominated atletico until that… defended so well deserved atleast a draw.

  10. That second yellow was so soft it’s hard for me to blame Kessie (the first yellow was needless on his part). That said the game was stolen from Milan.what’s the fucking point of VAR if they can’t catch any of the shit that goes down. The most undeserved 3 points I’ve ever seen a team get.

  11. Romagnoli this season ok, not bad, if he weren’t there wouldn’t be this confident on tomori so. Kessie should concentrate on more and more. Ref was really disgusting at this level. If the match were in turkey he would have been hangged. Bennacer was very well and Diaz too. Wish we win , wish we didn’t loose like this. But may be other than Liverpool we must win the rest of them all.

  12. As much as I don’t like Kessie for not renewing, he wasn’t really at fault. This was all on the ref. The worst refereed match I think I have ever witnessed. Just shockingly bad and one-sided. I hope our management raises hell to UEFA, because this ref doesn’t deserve to have a job after tonight.

  13. Kessie has nearly cost us in every game he has played so far this season with his lapses in concentration. Today that lack of focus came home to roost as he picked up a needless yellow card early, and forced us to play a man down. I lay the loss of 3 points squarely on his shoulders.

  14. Kessie is a proven bastard and pioli is stupid, haven’t Tonali impressed enough? He even sacrificed part of his salary to play for Milan yet idiot Pioli still believe in kessie. To hell with Kessie and Pioli that start him tonight. I can never forgive kessie, we really should have won at least 3-0 tonight. Pioli subs was wrong tonight, why bring in giroud when you wanted to defend? Should have leave leao at least for the sake of counters. I

  15. Hey all Milanists!
    I am incredibly proud of the team. We were about to smash them, the “big” champions of Spain…

    Then this f.cker referee changed everything. It wasn’t even a harsh game which could explain it, don’t even remember a single fault before the red card.
    This was pure cheating in my opinion.

    Now here comes the importance of Ibra and Giroud that how quickly the team can recover of this shock. Because after this impressive performance yet 0 points, these young players will be down a lot.
    Ibra and Giroud need to help them go through this, and to get back stronger. 💪⚫🔴

  16. We need to know that a simple call from UEFA is sufficient to destroy a match!
    An illiterate bloke done it again and he will referee more games only for UEFA’S interest. He will lick asses for Čeferin and the rest of the UEFA for a warm seat.

  17. First of all Kessie should play anymore he’s not focus on his team, we know why, beside below zero level as player and wouldn’t doubt he’s there just to screw Milan management.. But funny thing why pioli still have faith in this trashy boy??
    2nd pioli is not a tactictian rather than experimental kind of coach Milan should throw him out in quickest chance.
    Third and finally, since Elliot are bunch of idiots. No cure for Milan now or near future. Let’s b realistic. Look at players they bringing in. Free. Exhausted, injuries prone.

  18. First of all Kessie shouldn’t play anymore he’s not focus on his team, we know why, beside below zero level as player and wouldn’t doubt he’s there just to screw Milan management.. But funny thing why pioli still have faith in this trashy boy??
    2nd pioli is not a tactictian rather than experimental kind of coach Milan should throw him out in quickest chance.
    Third and finally, since Elliot are bunch of idiots. No cure for Milan now or near future. Let’s b realistic. Look at players they bringing in. Free. Exhausted, injuries prone.

  19. The referee undoubtedly cost the team the game but tactically, Pioli could have done better. Bring on Kalulu for Hernandez, move Hernandez into the middle of the field and tell him to hold there at the halfway line. There’s no way Atletico commit men forward when someone that fast is holding that position. This would have eased the pressure on the defence. They could have held on or nicked another goal for sure if they’d played like this. Giroud is not the man to be expecting to ease the pressure on the backline. He doesn’t have the pace or the ability to hold up the ball. Still, this was the referee and Kessie for getting the stupid first booking when there was literally no danger and he was covered. Suicide play by him.

  20. Kessie, must be put on bench, if you want to progress these season, because Kessie mind is no longer at Milan, he is thinking about PSG Big Money, because when you have first Yellow Card, You must be careful, but he did not do it

    Pioli, please put, that idiot called Kessie on bench, boot against Atalanta if you want to win a match, for 3 important match now Kessie did not play anything until yesterday blunder, he has prove to you that his mind is no longer with AC Milan, now keep him on bench, including Romagnoli, any player who refuse to renewal his or her contract, will be on the bench, now use those who are willing.

  21. Milan is attacking, being the better team and Kessie picks up 2 stupid yellow cards. He stepped on the foot if the other player, it was a 2nd yellow card clearly. He needs a 10 match bench warming break, and a bit lower offer on the contract.

  22. Kessie I agree has been below par all season and the contract renewal saga ain’t helping. If he wants to leave pls bench him and sell in January let tonality play more.
    For the red card that was ridiculous. We had every upper hand in the game. And there are videos showing lemar push the ball toward kalulus hand and again I wonder what the point of VAR is if such errors can’t be countered.
    Lastly Poili got it wrong with the substitutions, you remove leao, saleamakers, bennacer, calabria, brahim Diaz all at ones. That killed the game. For a player like giroud to he upfront, one or two of these players needed to still be on the pitch to upset the athletic defense so they don’t get too carried away pressing high. The first line of defence is always the attack
    I know we will salvage points in the group and have our heads held high. Forza Milan

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