Former Luigi Sala’s breakthrough: Atalanta-Milan 2001/2002 match revisited

The match on 19th December 2001 between Atalanta and AC Milan ended in a draw – and the controversial finish saw various incidents inside the Rossoneri’s area become a hot topic.

Managed at the time by Gian Piero Vavassori, Atalanta was ready to battle AC Milan in a contest rescheduled due to the September 11 attacks. Mid-table Nerazzurri came into the match with confidence, largely thanks to the stellar performance of their key player Doni, who would conclude the season with 16 goals.

The first half saw Atalanta dominate, with number 10, Doni, proving the standout player on a number of occasions. The breakthrough came when Carrera provided a well-placed pass to Luigi Sala, a former Rossonero, who took the opportunity to score the first goal of the match.

In the second half, AC Milan equalised owing to an unfortunate mistake by Sala. Shevchenko took this opportunity to equalise for the Rossoneri. However, the controversy was far from over.

Despite the match results being a fair reflection on play, the arbitration of Trentalange attracted much discussion over a series of fouls in the penalty area that were not given in favour of Atalanta. The contentious incidents included a collision between Laursen and Saudati and another involving Abbiati and Doni. Additionally, two Atalanta goals were disallowed, adding further fuel to the controversy.

While both teams demonstrated their own unique set of skills, the match will perhaps be remembered for the contentious events and decisions over the course of play. Nonetheless, it certainly added to the excitement of that year’s season.

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