Milan found it harder than expected to beat Europa League debutants Dudelange in Luxembourg, as Gonzalo Higuain scored the only goal.
Gennaro Gattuso rotated the squad in Luxembourg against a side with several semi-professional players, giving Mattia Caldara and Pepe Reina their debuts in a Rossoneri jersey, with first starts for Diego Laxalt, Samu Castillejo and Tiemoue Bakayoko, but Suso, Mateo Musacchio and injured Patrick Cutrone didn’t make the trip.
Gonzalo Higuain curled just wide from the edge of the box and Castillejo’s diving header was charged down, then the Spaniard’s effort was palmed round the base of the near post.
Jose Mauri was a little too selfish when running at defenders, but Dudelange had a good chance on 32 minutes when Kevin Malget in acres of space knocked down a cross for David Turpel to half-volley over.
They went even closer moments later, Stolz springing the offside trap to fire over from a tight angle.
Caldara almost found the net on his Milan debut, a free header over from a corner. Curiously, only two players were booked in the first half: Alessio Romagnoli and Ignazio Abate.
Joe Frising made a genuinely fantastic save on 49 minutes, denying Higuain’s side-foot finish from 12 yards on a Laxalt cross.
Pipita finally found the breakthrough when Castillejo pulled back and the Argentine’s shot took a big deflection off Prempeh to squirm under the goalkeeper.
Fabio Borini came sliding on to a Castillejo cross-shot at the far post, only able to deflect it on to the side-netting.
Reina’s first real save was moments later, as Stolz barged his way through and his shot was smothered by the ex-Napoli goalkeeper.
Borini was unlucky not to make it 2-0 with a similar chance to earlier, this time he got on the end of the Castillejo cross and volleyed it on to the base of the near post.
Frising again came to the rescue of Dudelange, parrying the Higuain angled drive after a strong run and roll across from substitute Hakan Calhanoglu.
Alen Halilovic made his debut in a Milan jersey and had a good chance, his strike charged down seemingly by an arm, but the referee judged it to be involuntary. There was still time in stoppages for Dudelange to create another scare, as Clement Couturier’s half-volley was over the bar.
Dudelange 0-1 Milan
Higuain 59 (M)
Dudelange: Frising; Malget (Jordanov 84), Schnell, Prempeh, El Hriti (Melisse 79); Stolz, Couturier, Stelvio (Stumpf 74), Kruska; Turpel, Sinani
Milan: Reina; Abate, Caldara, Romagnoli, Laxalt; Bertolacci (Kessie 69), Mauri (Calhanoglu 80), Bakayoko; Borini (Halilovic 87), Higuain, Castillejo
Ref: Jovanovic (SRB)
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