Milan were 2-1 down to Dudelange at San Siro, but a late rally inspired by Hakan Calhanoglu – including two own goals – turned it around for a 5-2 victory.
There was also good news from Betis, who beat Olympiacos 1-0, meaning the Rossoneri can lose the final game in Greece by one clear goal and still qualify.
The Rossoneri simply had to win ahead of the final trip to Greece, as Olympiacos were up against Real Betis and level with Milan on seven points, with the Spaniards on eight. Gonzalo Higuain was available, as his two-match ban was only valid for Serie A, but injuries ruled out Alessio Romagnoli, Mateo Musacchio, Mattia Caldara, Jack Bonaventura and Lucas Biglia, so Stefan Simic was given his debut in defence and Alen Halilovic his first start, having played just three minutes as a substitute in the reverse fixture in September.
Only Higuain’s goal decided the game in Luxembourg and Dudelange didn’t have a single point so far in this maiden Europa League campaign.
Pipita drilled inches wide from the edge of the box, then ex-Juventus goalkeeper Landry Bonnefoi parried snapshots from both Hakan Calhanoglu and Higuain.
However, Bonnefoi was at fault for the opening goal. Higuain flicked it on from the edge of the box and Cutrone turned well from 10 yards, but the goalkeeper fumbled the ball and it squirmed into the near bottom corner. Remarkably, it was the 20-year-old’s fourth Europa League goal of the season, achieved with only his fifth shot on target.
Milan seemed to be in control, but that prompted some complacency and Dudelange scored only their second Europa League goal. A set play was flicked on for Dominik Stolz, who let it bounce from 12 yards and smashed a fantastic half-volley into the far top corner.
The half-time team talk clearly had no effect, because Dudelange came out far more determined than Milan and took the lead. Edisson Jordanov’s shot took a deflection off Cristian Zapata and Dave Turpel pounced for a powerful angled drive into the far bottom corner.
It was almost 3-1 for the side from Luxembourg moments later, Bryan Melisse smashing another strike just wide from the edge of the box.
Jose Mauri came on and within 30 seconds had penalty appeals waved away, as he cut across Melisse and they got tangled up. The former Parma midfielder also had a long-range effort beaten away just before Milan’s equaliser.
Calhanoglu’s cross from the left took a deflection off Stelvio Cruz, getting there before Cutrone, and it flicked over a helpless Bonnefoi.
Cutrone juggled a long ball as he turned and forced Bonnefoi into a save, but the pressure increased and Milan completed the comeback to go 3-2 up. Calhanoglu’s daisy-cutter from 20 metres out squirmed in at the near post.
Dudelange suddenly collapsed and Milan ran riot. Calhanoglu was again involved, his taut free kick deflected by a diving Tom Schnell header to surprise Bonnefoi for the second own goal of the game.
Fabio Borini came off the bench and found the net within 47 seconds. Calhanoglu’s attempt from close range bounced off the crossbar, so Borini chested it down to fire in the rebound at the back post.
There was another worry to deal with in stoppages, as Tiemoue Bakayoko had to be helped off the field after turning his ankle.
Milan 5-2 Dudelange
Cutrone 21 (M), Stolz 39 (D), Turpel 49 (D), Cruz og 66 (M), Calhanoglu 70 (M), Schnell og 78 (M), Borini 81 (M)
Milan: Reina; Calabria, Simic, Zapata, Laxalt; Halilovic (Suso 52), Bakayoko, Bertolacci (Jose Mauri 58), Calhanoglu; Cutrone (Borini 80), Higuain
Dudelange: Bonnefoi; Schnell, Cruz (Pokar 75), Prempeh; Jordanov, Stolz (Keina 80), Kruska, Couturier, Melisse; Sinani; Turpel
Ref: Bezborodov (RUS)
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