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03 October 2023

AC Milan win Dubai Football Challenge

AC Milan being presented the trophy by dignitaries. (SUPPLIED)

By Agencies

Carlo Ancelotti's reign at Paris Saint-Germain started with a loss on Wednesday as AC Milan beat the French club 1-0 in a friendly at Dubai's Al Ahli Club stadium.

The Dubai Football Challenge was a jointly sponsored event by the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and Emirates.

It was held under the Patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Sports Council.

Milan scored in the fourth minute as Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic played the ball across for Brazilian forward Alexandre Pato to tap home into an empty net.

PSG went on the attack after that, with Nene and Javier Pastore forcing saves from Milan goalkeeper Marco Amelia, before Antonio Nocerino rattled PSG's crossbar with an audacious overhead kick.

Nene had two chances to equalise in the second half, but both his effort were saved by Amelia.

Ancelotti took over as PSG coach last week after Antoine Kombouare was let go despite leading the big-spending club to first place in the French league standings going into the winter break.

"We didn't start well because we conceded the goal immediately, but there was a good reaction with good play, good football and good combinations up front. I am happy," Ancelotti said. "Of course, we have to improve, but we played against a strong team. Our match was good."

He added: “With the position we are in at the top of our league, the last week’s training in Doha has allowed us to become much more focused and to work together better as a team. It was a real treat to play AC Milan here in Dubai, as they are a very strong squad in Europe. The energy in the crowd was fantastic.” 

AC Milan also tops the Serie A standings, and both teams are using the training camp in Dubai to get ready for the second half of the season.

"We had a good first half," Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said. "There were a lot of good and bad things, but I'm happy with the training we've done and it was a good test for the team against one of the best sides in France."

He added: “With the second half of any league season being the most important part, this match was an important test for us, and a thrilling game. We are now prepared to go back to Italy in fine form and be ready for all of our upcoming matches, including all games to be played for our league, which we plan on winning."

Hamad M. bin Mejren, Executive Director Tourism from DTCM stated: “We are so pleased to have had two such elite European teams here in Dubai to participate in the 2012 Dubai Football Challenge. Both teams exhibited such world-class professionalism and sportsmanship here tonight on and off the pitch. The Dubai football fan was incredibly lucky to witness such an event. Dubai as a destination encourages top class football matches such as the Dubai Football Challenge and we look forward to next year’s match.”

“Tonight’s match was an incredible start to the New Year. Watching some of the world’s leading footballers’ battle it out, right here in Dubai, was exhilarating and I have no doubt that the football fans who watched the match will agree. Emirates is proud to have played a key role in bringing these two top teams to Dubai. We are passionate about our sport sponsorships and look forward to a continued partnership with both AC Milan and PSG,”  said Ahmed Khoory, Emirates’ Senior Vice President, Gulf, Middle East and Iran.

Both teams departed from Dubai this morning, each to finish the second half of their respective seasons in Europe with both AC Milan and PSG, much more prepared for their league rivals.  The match saw an attendance of over 10,000 fans at Rashid Stadium.