Jens Petter Hauge Strike Enough for Milan Second String Side

Pole position was on offer in the Europa League Group H, but Stefano Pioli sent out his second-string Milan side against Sparta Praha. Only Sandro Tonali was a first-team regular on the pitch as 10 changes were made to the team that took on Sampdoria in Serie A.

However, that was enough for the visitors. Jens Petter Hauge gave them the lead, despite the Czech side giving a good account of their abilities. In the end, it was not enough against the Italian giants.

Despite the gulf in experience, it was the Rossoneri who made the first threatening attempt, with Diogo Dalot forcing a diving save from Milan Heca. They would not get another opportunity soon as Sparta denied them openings.

At the other end of the pitch, the Czech giants improved their structure. They put Milan under pressure in the opening exchanges but could not make anything out of it. Adam Karabec and Srdjan Plavsic tried to create from the flanks, but their efforts were thwarted.

Pioli’s young charges showed they had enough in the tank to see them off. And when they got the chance to exhibit themselves, they did it in style. Diogo Dalot released Jens Petter Hauge on the overlap from the left flank, and the Norwegian did the rest himself. The 21-year-old left behind Sparta defenders in his wake before unleashing a shot destined for the bottom right corner. Milan Heca dived again but had no chance of stopping it.

The game opened up after the first goal. The Reds tried to force the occasion through Tomas Wiesner, but the Milan defense was up to the occasion. In their defensive third, Samu Castillejo and Daniel Maldini tried to find their teammates, but nothing came from their forays. Castillejo would test Heca after going on a solo run from the right flank, while Lorenzo Colombo also coming close. However, the 18-year-old’s naivete was exhibited as he sent his header well over the bar.

It was more of the same in the second half but with more drama. Both sides continued to test each other but without much to show for. Hauge again made it to the box, but his effort did not get the desired result. On the other hand, Ladislav Krejci tested Ciprian Tatarusanu. The Milan custodian pulled off a brilliant save to deny Sparta.

There was drama in the 77th minute as Daniel Siebert showed Dominik Plechaty a straight red card for a sliding tackle. The young defender had escaped punishment minutes earlier, but the German official’s decision seemed unwarranted. The appeals and disagreements also saw Milan Heca getting cautioned.

Despite being a man down, Sparta managed continued to attack. The match became alive in the game’s final minutes as the ball moved from one end to the other. They had a decent claim for a penalty in the 85th minute, but the referee waved play on.

On the other hand, Milan should have doubled their lead in the penultimate minute of regulation time, but poor decision making cost them. Castillejo had Rafael Leao and Rede Krunic on either side in a 2 vs. 3. He released Krunic, who crossed without looking up, and the opportunity was spurned.

In the third minute of added time, they would come close again, but the goalkeeper denied David Moberg Karlsson. It would be their last chance to claim an equalizer, which would not come to be.

When the referee whistled for full time, Milan finished as Group H winners as Celtic denied Lille points. The 3-2 result in Glasgow favored the Rossoneri, who finished with 13 points, 2 ahead of their French counterparts.



December 10, 2020 – Europa League 2020-21 Group Stage

SCORER: 23′ Hauge 

SPARTA PRAHA (3-5-2): Heca; Vitik, Plechaty, Lischka; Wiesner, Sacek (82′ Krejci I), Soucek, Karabec (46′ Krejci II), Polidar; Minchev (66′ Julis), Plavsic (65′ Moberg-Karlsson) (Nita, Holec, Hanousek, Travnik, Vindheim, Gabriel, Rynes) Coach: Kotal
MILAN (4-2-3-1): Tatarusanu; Conti, Duarte, Kalulu, Diogo Dalot; Krunic, Tonali; Castillejo, Maldini (78 Kessié), Hauge (91′ Brahim Diaz); Colombo (67′ Rafael Leao) (Moleri, A. Donnarumma, Calabria, Rebic, Hernandez, Musacchio, Gabbia, Mionic) Coach: Pioli

REFEREE: Siebert (Germany)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Sacek, Polidar, Heca (S), Krunic, Maldini, Castillejo (M); Red Card: Plechaty (S); Extra Time: First Half 0′, Second Half 5′