Europa League Recap: Away Wins for Milan and Roma in Round One

Three Serie A sides were involved in UEFA Europa League with victories for Roma and AC Milan while AZ Alkmaar defeated Napoli at the San Paolo.

The Europa League got underway with plenty of excitement about it. AC Milan, AS Roma, and Napoli represent Serie A, mixing it up with cup winners and champions of lesser-known leagues. Glory will not be easy to come by, with everything on the line.

The pot is made sweeter with direct entry to the Champions League available for the victor. With perennial champions Sevilla being out of the picture, at least for the time being, Milan, Napoli, and Roma have a pedigree in the competition but have not come close in its current form. AC Milan and Napoli won the UEFA Cup, while AS Roma claimed the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1960/61.

The trio from the Italian top-flight had form on their side, managing impressive wins over their league rivals. For Milan and Roma, it seemed to propel them while Napoli looked tired in their outing. Here is our rundown of Europa League group games with participating Serie A sides.

Young Boys – Roma 1-2

AS Roma made the trip to Switzerland on the back of an impressive 5-2 win over Benevento. Paulo Fonseca rested first-team regulars Eden Dzeko, Jordan Veretout, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Leonardo Spinazzola, and Lorenzo Pellegrini for the European fixture but required their presence to claim a come from behind victory.

It was the hosts who opened the scoring just before the quarter-hour mark. Jean Pierre Nsame hit the back of the net from the spot after Bryan Cristante brought down Fabian Rieder. Roma would play catch-up with impressive combination play, but their efforts came to nothing.

Leonardo Spinazzola was the first to come on for Rick Karsdorp as Fonseca tried to stir things up. The left-back added much-required energy with his forays into the final third. However, Young Boys defense stood resolute with timely interventions.

Just before the hour mark, Dzeko, Veretout, and Mkhitaryan came on the pitch. Gerardo Seoane also brought on fresh legs as the Swiss were showing signs of fatigue. The experience and quality of the Romans shone through, and they would equalize through Bruno Peres. Dzeko was the architect as he released the right-back on goal, who finished into the bottom left corner.

Nicolas Burgy could have restored Young Boys’ lead, but his header narrowly missed the mark. The Swiss were made to pay for the let-up as three minutes later, Marash Kumbulla would give the Giallorossi the lead from a Mkhitaryan long pass.

The Wankdorf Stadium would see their residents try their luck again, but their efforts did not come to fruition. Pau Lopez was at hand with a great save to deny Elia Meschack, while Theoson Siebatcheu’s header was off the mark. The scores would not change, and the Romans returned to Italy with the three points on offer.

Napoli – AZ Alkmaar 0-1

Out of the three Italian sides in the Europa League , Napoli were the ones playing at home. The San Paolo had limited fans, and they would not have been pleased with their dismal showing in the final third. The Partenopei were the better side as compared to their Dutch counterparts but did not create anything of value. They did manage to trouble the goalkeeper but had no luck getting past his defense.

Like Gennaro Gattuso, Arne Slot sent his best side on the pitch. While the Italians huffed and puffed, it was the Cheeseheads who kept their composure. Their idea was simple, frustrate the Partenopei and hit on the counterattack. They followed their plan to the tee, going on long stretches without having a whiff of the ball.

The first half saw Napoli come close through Matteo Politano and Dries Mertens. It was Marco Bizot who denied Politano despite being out of position, while the Belgian’s effort was a whisker off the right post.

In the second half, Victor Osimhen could have given his side the lead after he received a pass inside the box. The Nigerian Prince didn’t even come close as his effort was wide of the left post. AZ would not make the same mistake when the opportunity presented itself. Dani de Wit was on target when he received the ball from Jonas Svensson. His effort into the top left corner was unstoppable.

The Partenopei continued to hound their opposition but could not make anything out of their possession superiority. The Cheeseheads were comfortable staying back with their low block, swatting anything that came within the final third. It was a deserved victory for the Dutch side who showed composure in defense and took the chance that presented itself.

Celtic Glasgow – Milan 1-3

Stefano Pioli’s AC Milan are making the Rossoneri fans dream again. After managing to defeat Inter Milan in the derby over the weekend, they swatted away Celtic in the Europa League. The Scottish record champions were expressive in their intentions but failed to make their chances count.

Like the Nerazzurri over the weekend, Celtic could only blame themselves for the missed chances. Milan’s efficiency with Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the tip of their attack is something to behold and envy for their rivals.

The first goal came just before the quarter-hour mark through the unlikeliest of Milan players, Rade Krunic. It was the Bosnian’s debut goal in Milan colors, and what a time to have it. The midfielder got on the end of Samu Castillejo’s cross and planted his header into the back of the net.

The visitors doubled their lead in the dying minutes of first-half through clever link-up play between two Spaniards. Theo Hernandez squared the ball to Real Madrid loanee Brahim Diaz, who beat Vasilios Barkas with a fierce effort into the bottom left corner. When the referee whistled for the break, the Italians were cruising without even breaking a sweat.

Celtic did manage to claw one back midway through the second half. Tom Rogic earned a corner after his effort was deflected behind. Mohamed Elyounoussi would make the Milan defense pay as he rose the highest and buried Ryan Christie’s cross into the right side of the goal.

After having the deficit, the Scottish champions tried to equalize, but the excellent Gianluigi Donnarumma thwarted their efforts. Deep in injury time, there would be goal action, but for the Rossoneri. Jens Hauge got on the end of a clever Alexis Saelemaekers pass and sent a fierce shot into the bottom right corner to make it 1-3.

The referee would blow for full time a couple of minutes later. After giving warning signals in the Serie A, Milan gave a good account of their abilities in Europe’s second-tier club competition.