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Donnarumma praises Mancini after Poland win

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After Italy held firm and pipped Poland 1-0 with a goal in the 92nd minute. It’s their steadfastness in pursuing that winner that has Gianluigi Donnarumma impressed.

But that steadfastness didn’t just appear out of thin air. It’s been instilled by Mancini, the Italian goalkeeper said.

[ RECAP: Italy beats Poland at the death ]

“The atmosphere is calm: we needed this victory, we deserved it and it gives us even more strength to move forward with calmness,” Donnarumma said to Rai Sport after the match. “Even if it’s difficult not to, we try not to think about anything other than ourselves. We needed this win to convince ourselves that we’re a great group. The Coach makes us give our best in every training session. We have to listen to him and go on like this.”

Italy controlled the match, holding 70% of possession and popping off 18 shots to Poland’s six. Jorginho hit the post in the very first minute, while Lorenzo Insigne rattled the woodwork on the half-hour mark. Wojciech Szczesny made a few fine saves as well that threatened to frustrate Italy. They remained opportunistic, and found the winner as Cristiano Biraghi tapped in a corner at the far post.

“Tonight we faced a great Szczesny and I congratulate him,” Donnarumma said. “We controlled the game for almost its entirety and it wasn’t easy. We have to continue like this and go one game at a time.”

Mancini took over Italy in May, six months after they were eliminated from World Cup contention. The win over Poland is the first since beating Saudi Arabia in late May. However, the team has lost just once in that span as well, falling 1-0 to Portugal earlier last month.

Arsenal overcomes outrageous Milan goal to advance in Europa League (video)

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Danny Welbeck scored twice as Arsenal advanced to the Europa League quarterfinals with a 3-1 win, 5-1 on aggregate, over AC Milan on Thursday at the Emirates Stadium.

Hakan Calhanoglu scored a wonderful goal to give Milan hope, but Welbeck won a very questionable penalty and converted it moments later.

Granit Xhaka also scored for Arsenal, which is hoping to win the tournament for a spot in the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League.

The draw for the quarterfinals will be held at 8 a.m. ET Friday morning.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Arsenal could’ve given one of those goals back in the first minute, as Andre Silva found himself alone with a cutback inside the 18 only to hit his attempt off the outside of the net.

Danny Welbeck couldn’t beat Gianluigi Donnarumma at the other end, and Arsenal grew into control of the match.

Yet Milan went ahead, and did it in style through Calhanoglu’s rip from distance.

Arsenal quickly bid to answer, with Donnarumma making an outstanding save on Aaron Ramsey. And a penalty was given to the Gunners soon via a Welbeck dive.

Welbeck got Donnarumma going the wrong way to level the leg at 1.

Calum Chambers then saw a ball off his elbow inside the Arsenal box, but no penalty was given to Milan.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan‘s diving header of a Welbeck pass almost made it a three-goal difference on aggregate before the break, but the ball headed wide of the post.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Donnarumma was again needed to thwart a Mkhitaryan shot in the 49th minute, and Shkrodan Mustafi nodded over the bar on the ensuing corner kick.

Suso dragged a shot wide as Milan endeavored to come back and substitute Nikola Kalinic then headed an inviting cross to a stooped Ospina.

For all the good he did, Donnarumma committed a howler in allowing Xhaka’s effort with 20 minutes to play. That effectively sealed it for the hosts.

Donnarumma in tears after Milan fans jeer him

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MILAN (AP) A visibly shaken Gianluigi Donnarumma was comforted by AC Milan teammate Leonardo Bonucci as insults poured down on the teenage goalkeeper from the fans. And that was only the warmup.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

Donnarumma has swiftly gone from being one of Milan’s most adored players to its most hated.

After a protracted saga appeared to be settled in the offseason by Donnarumma signing a contract until 2021, speculation over his future has started again and supporters have had enough.

Despite the new deal being worth 6 million euros ($7 million) a year and including the signing of his older brother as Milan’s third-choice goalkeeper, Donnarumma and his agent, Mino Raiola, are reportedly looking to annul the contract because he felt pressure to agree to it.

Before Wednesday’s Italian Cup victory over Hellas Verona, fans unveiled a giant banner saying: “Moral abuse, 6 million a year and the signing of a parasite brother? Now go, our patience is finished.”

There were jeers ahead of the kick-off when the 18-year-old Donnarumma’s name was read out, and shouts for him to leave. He was in tears as he was comforted by Bonucci.

Donnarumma had to play the first half below the giant banner and his every touch was greeted with boos.

“Of course he’s upset, he’s only 18,” Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso said before his team plays Hellas Verona again in Serie A on Sunday. “For the age that he is, there’s no doubt that he will become the best goalkeeper in the world, but he’s not calm and it can’t be easy to go out on the pitch and be criticized by your own fans. I can only say that while he is with me he will always have my total protection.

“They’re turning a lad of 18 into a monster. And he doesn’t deserve it, he has incredible values. Luckily this was a match where there weren’t many people (about 9,000). Imagine how difficult it would have been with 50-60,000.”

It’s not the first time Donnarumma has faced insults from the stands. He had fake money thrown at him during Italy’s Under-21 European Championship opener against Denmark in June after it was announced he would not be renewing his contract, while a banner emblazoned with “Dollarumma” was also displayed.

“We understand the fans but I ask them to boo our opponents and not our players,” Milan sporting director Massimiliano Mirabelli said. “Gigio is a young lad and he’s not entirely at fault, he loves Milan and one day he will understand what’s good and what’s bad.

“He needs to be supported and the club will do so because he is an asset. We know where the evil comes from and we hope to resolve this problem in the next few months.”

Mirabelli said Milan “has no intention of selling Donnarumma” and criticized Raiola.

“I don’t have any plans to meet with Raiola. I don’t have anything to say to him,” Mirabelli said. “There’s a man who is trying to damage our image but he is becoming more a showman than anything else. We laugh about it, but he won’t get away with it.

“Gigio has never said he wants to leave, otherwise he would never have signed through to 2021. There’s someone who is trying to organize something deliberately, but we will look out for Milan’s interests in every arena.”

[ MORE: Christian Pulisic named USMNT Player of the Year ]

Donnarumma has been playing for Milan since October 2015, when he became the youngest goalkeeper to start a Serie A match, at the age of 16 years, 8 months, 6 days.

He has made four senior Italy appearances and is likely to take over as the No. 1 after Gianluigi Buffon retired from international duty following the Azzurri’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

AC Milan’s masterplan: Spend their way back to relevance

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ROME (AP) It’s the type of freewheeling spending spree that has been the domain of Middle East sheikhs and Russian oligarchs in recent years.

Only this time it’s the new Chinese owners of AC Milan who have been dominating football’s transfer market.

The signing of prized Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci from six-time defending Serie A champion Juventus on Friday boosted Milan’s offseason spending to 211 million euros (nearly $250 million) – easily the most in Europe.

Other recent signings by the Rossoneri have included forward Andre Silva from FC Porto; midfielders Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg), Franck Kessie and Andrea Conti (Atalanta), Hakan Calhanoglu (Bayer Leverkusen) and Lucas Biglia (Lazio), and defender Mateo Musacchio (Villarreal).

With teenage goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma having agreed to extend his contract until 2021 and another big forward signing expected, Milan could be in position to challenge for its first Serie A title since 2011.

It’s the type of outlay made by the likes of Roman Abramovich when he took over Chelsea in 2003, Sheikh Mansour at Manchester City in 2008 and the Qatari investors in Paris Saint-Germain in 2011.

The overhaul reminds former Milan coach Arrigo Sacchi of when Silvio Berlusconi took control of the club three decades ago and quickly acquired the likes of Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten, Carlo Ancelotti and Frank Rijkaard.

The important thing, Sacchi said in an editorial in the Gazzetta dello Sport on Saturday, will be for the new owners to give Milan coach Vincenzo Montella the time to mold a proper squad.

“Berlusconi and (former Milan vice president Adriano) Galliani were extraordinary and determined with me, showing confidence and respect for me even though we were far from the top by Christmas,” Sacchi wrote.

“Montella’s job won’t be easy,” Sacchi added. “He’s going to have to create the right chemistry and find a system of playing that makes all of these players thrive.”

Milan went on to win two European Cups under Sacchi and ushered in a period of dominance by Italian clubs.

With seven European and Champions League titles in all, Milan sits second only to Real Madrid’s 12.

But after three years without any appearances at all in Europe, Milan is looking to regain its place among football’s elite.

The Chinese-led consortium that purchased Milan from Berlusconi for $800 million in April has infused the club with cash.

By the time Serie A starts in mid-August, Milan’s starting 11 could consist of nine new players.

While Bonucci is considered Italy’s top defender – which is saying something in a nation that prides itself on its defending – the last piece of Milan’s transfer puzzle could be the one that alters the balance of power in Serie A.

If Bonucci, as he has intimated, is able to convince former Juventus teammate and current Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata to join him at Milan, the Rossoneri might just have enough firepower to end Juve’s stranglehold on the “scudetto” (title).

The other forwards Milan is considering signing include: Andrea Belotti, who scored 26 goals for Torino last season; Nikola Kalinic, the scrappy Fiorentina striker; or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the still-improving Borussia Dortmund marksman who ended his youth career with Milan.

Whoever Milan chooses, he will pair in attack with the 21-year-old Silva, Cristiano Ronaldo’s wingman with Portugal, whose transfer cost 38 million euros ($42.5 million).

Bonucci’s transfer fee topped the 40 million euro ($45 million) mark, and the center back was signed to a five-year contract worth up to 10 million euros ($11 million) per season, including bonuses – making him the highest-paid player in Italy.

In an unusual move, Milan will also make Bonucci the club’s captain before he even plays a match for the team.

“The truth is they’ve gone beyond expectations,” former Milan stalwart Demetrio Albertini said of the new owners. “But if amount of money invested were the only measure that counted, Paris Saint-Germain should have won at least a couple Champions League titles by now.”

Teenage Milan ‘keeper Donnarumma renews contract until 2021

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MILAN (AP) AC Milan’s teenage goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma has agreed to extend his contract with the Serie A club until 2021.

The talented 18-year-old turned down a new deal last month and would have been a free agent at the end of next season.

But on Tuesday, Milan announced it had reached an agreement with Donnarumma, saying he would sign a new four-year contract the following morning.

[ MORE: The 5,442-mile away day ]

Key to the deal is the signing of Donnarumma’s older brother Antonio, also a goalkeeper.

The new contract will reportedly see the younger Donnarumma earn six million euros a season ($7 million) and contains a release clause worth approximately 70 million euros.

Donnarumma has been ever present for Milan since October 2015, when he became the youngest goalkeeper to start a Serie A match, at the age of 16 years, 8 months, 6 days.

He has already made four international appearances and is seen as the heir to veteran Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

Donnarumma had fake money thrown at him during his country’s Under-21 European Championship opener against Denmark last month by fans seemingly upset by his decision not to renew his contract, while a banner emblazoned with “Dollarumma” was also displayed.