Many predicted the London outfit to steamroll their way to progression, with Milan finishing 2nd and moving further as well.
However, the reality was far less straightforward, as Chelsea lost and drew their first 2 fixtures while the Rossoneri notched up a win and a draw.
The Italian Champions then travelled to Stamford Bridge, with the opportunity to essentially confirm a 1st placed finish through a win, but they squandered it in terrible fashion.
Milan were on the receiving end of a 3-0 drubbing and now had it all to play for in the reverse fixture at the San Siro.
Rossoneri Defender Fikayo Tomori, who endured a horrid return to his former club, spoke on Milan’s desire for revenge before the game, saying, “We are here tomorrow to redeem ourselves. Against Chelsea, it wasn’t the real Milan and it wasn’t the reaction we wanted.”
All signs pointed towards a cracking European night.
Unfortunately, the game ended up being even more one-sided than its predecessor.
On this occasion, the tides shifted after a controversial moment in the 18th minute, as Tomori was sent off for supposedly denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.
While trailing fellow Cobham graduate Mason Mount, the defender tugged on his back multiple times, and eventually, the Englishman hit the floor.
The referee, who was especially trigger-happy on the night, quickly pulled out a red, and Milan had to contend with 10 men for 70 minutes.
The 24-year-old would’ve undoubtedly been disappointed with the decision, and as it turns out, even his former Chelsea teammates were gutted for him.
Mason Mount, who was on the opposing end of the foul, came to Tomori’s defense following the game.
The English international told the official Chelsea website, “He’s obviously my mate, I’ve known Fik for a very long time and I felt for him in that situation, I was gutted for him. I don’t think it was a sending-off. Was it a penalty? Maybe yes. I’m an honest player and I want to try to score a goal and he pulled me back a little bit but I feel for him for that decision. It’s a tough one.”
He further spoke on his honest attempts at staying on his feet and not taking advantage of the minimal contact.
“I felt him trying to pull me back but I was running to goal so I wasn’t going to go down and I felt like I could still have an opportunity to score. So I carried on going, didn’t score and then obviously the ref blew up and gave a pen straight away. I was probably a bit surprised at the time because I’ve still gone through and had a shot.”
He then went on to admit that sending off killed the game’s rhythm, allowing Chelsea to breeze past Milan.
“It was hard to see him get sent off. You still want to be playing 11 v 11 and going at it with two good teams, so it maybe ruined the game a bit. It was massive for us and we obviously wanted to win the game, which we did, but I still feel for Fik a lot.”
Mount’s sincerity was received well by Milan fans who gave the midfielder his share of the credit.
In contrast, the referee still remains the primary antagonist among Rossoneri supporters.