Milan put in another disappointing performance to draw 0-0 at San Siro with AEK Athens, but goalkeeper Giannis Anestis performed heroics.
The Rossoneri had won all six of their Europa League games this season, including the preliminary rounds, yet lost three on the bounce in Serie A, putting Coach Vincenzo Montella at serious risk. Nikola Kalinic returned from injury, but was only fit for the bench, while Alessio Romagnoli, Cristian Zapata, Ignazio Abate, Luca Antonelli and Gustavo Gomez missed out. Hakan Calhanoglu was suspended for Sunday’s 3-2 derby defeat to Inter.
AEK had some familiar faces, including ex-Inter striker Marko Livaja and former Bologna winger Lazaros Christodoulopoulos, but made the trip without Dmytro Chrygrynskiy, Uros Cosic, Iceland international Arnor Ingvi Traustason, Giorgos Giakoumakis and ex-Bologna and Udinese midfielder Panagiotis Kone.
AEK had an aggressive start, but Patrick Cutrone saw his spectacular chest and volley disallowed for a narrow offside position.
Suso and Manuel Locatelli blasted high and wide from distance, while Cutrone’s header was smothered from a Calhanoglu free kick.
However, the Athens club had the best chance on the half-hour when Mateo Musacchio was surprised by a Gigio Donnarumma pass, risked an own goal and was then robbed by Andre Simoes for a shot that flashed across the face of goal, taking a deflection off Donnarumma’s foot.
Towards half-time, there was a double AEK chance, as first Suso got a deflection on Petros Mantalos and from the resulting corner Donnarumma’s gloves were stung by Adam Tzanetopoulos.
On the stroke of half-time, Andre Silva got himself into a very good position, but brave defending blocked his shot. From the corner, Locatelli blasted just wide from the edge of the area.
AEK threatened again, Helder Lopes turning a free header over and claiming he was nudged by Calabria, then Musacchio with a decisive block after Mantalos had dribbled past Bonucci.
Milan had their best chance of the game so far, Calhanoglu’s fierce shot beaten into the path of Andre Silva, but desperate defending closed him down.
Nikola Kalinic came off the bench and flicked on a pass for Cutrone to beat the offside trap, but Giannis Anestis came tearing off his line to deflect the finish over from point-blank range.
Leonardo Bonucci fired well wide, prompting jeers from the crowd, but Suso dribbled down the right and Anestis stuck up a hand to parry from point-blank range with a wonderful reaction save.
However, AEK came awfully close too on 85 minutes, a ferocious shot from Bakasetas almost propelling Donnarumma backwards.
Calhanoglu thought he had scored in the final minute, a free kick from practically the corner flag stinging the gloves of Anestis, who managed to palm it away from danger too.
Deep into stoppages, AEK had the best chance, Araujo’s curler on the counter deflected wide off Musacchio. Milan were jeered off the field at this, their first draw of the season in all competition.
Milan 0-0 AEK Athens
Milan: G Donnarumma; Musacchio, Bonucci, Rodriguez; Calabria, Suso (Borini 83), Locatelli, Calhanoglu, Bonaventura (Kessie 72); Andre Silva (Kalinic 62), Cutrone
AEK Athens: Anestis; Vranjes, Tzanetopoulos, Bakakis; Helder Lopes, Simoes, Johansson, Galo; Mantalos (Galanopoulos 93), Christodoulopoulos (Araujo 64); Livaja (Bakasetas 76)
Ref: Ekberg (SWE)
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