Milan Crash into Lille Wall as Rossoneri Are Held to a Draw

Milan didn’t manage to get the best of Lille in their fourth Europa League seasonal encounter as the French side canceled Samu Castillejo’s lead and held the Rossoneri to a 1-1 draw. The stalemate leaves both clubs in full contention for a spot in the knockout stage, but Lille managed to preserve their one-point lead over Stefano Pioli’s side, which increases their chances of sealing the top spot in the group.

Lille confirmed to be a tough team to deal with, though the Rossoneri did much better than three weeks ago – when Lille shocked the San Siro with a 0-3 win – and were in control for most of the game.

The French side’s equalizer came from a dead ball situation in which Milan defensive line appeared caught by surprise but, all in all, Daniele Bonera (who replaced Pioli on the bench) could be happy with the outcome as he came away with a point despite resorting to a massive turnover and missing a key player like Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

In defense, Matteo Gabbia took the place of Alessio Romagnoli and Diogo Dalot acted as a right-back. Sandro Tonali was deployed in place of Franck Kessié in midfield. There were chances from the start also for Jens Petter Hauge (it was the first cap as a starter for the Norwegian) and Samu Castillejo on the wings, with Ante Rebic trying to fill in Zlatan’s shoes on the front-line.

After 25 minutes of dull stalemate, Milan switched to a higher gear but the first chance was incredibly missed by Hauge, who squandered a brilliant service from Hakan Calhanoglu. The Norwegian waited a second too much before trying to serve Ante Rebic who was free in the middle of the box.

A curl from Luiz Araujo, which Gianluigi Donnarumma easily deflected in corner was Lille’s first opportunity and it came only on 35 minutes. Les Dogues gained confidence and, four minutes later, Yusuf Yazici won a duel against Simon Kjaer and fired a shot that didn’t hit the target but reminded everybody that only three weeks earlier the Turk had bagged a hat-trick against the Rossoneri.

In the 41st minute, Jonathan Bamba set Luiz Araujo free to shot and the Brazilian tested Donnarumma again, with Milan’s captain proving equal to the task.

Milan’s opener came right after the restart: Sandro Tonali showed what he’s capable of with a fantastic vertical pass that prompted Rebic’s progression. The Croat defended the ball in the box and offered Samu Castillejo an easy conversion to draw first blood for the Rossoneri.

Around the one-hour mark, Daniele Bonera made a double substitution for Milan, sending in Brahim Diaz and Lorenzo Colombo. The Spaniard’s impact on the match was immediate as he turned his very first touch on the ball into a fine service for Hauge, but the Norwegian was once again ineffective with his final pass.

Then, right after Christophe Galtier also came up with a double change, out of nowhere came Lille’s equalizer, with Bamba finalizing a beautiful one-touch team-effort that started from a throw in and caught Milan’s defense by surprise.

After drawing level, the French side seemed happy with settling for a tie and left the initiative to Milan. The Rossoneri, however, also seemed comfortable with coming back home with one point only as there we no more significant scoring chances from either side.

Milan remained in the trail of Lille in the Europa League Group H and will need to beat Celtic Glasgow next week to qualify for the next stage.



November 26, 2020 – Europa League 2020-21 Group Stage

SCORERS: 46′ Castillejo (M), 65′ Bamba (L)

LILLE (4-4-2): Maignan; Pied (79′ Djalo), Fonte, Botman, Mandava; Luiz Araujo (75′ Lihadji), Xeka (63′ Soumare), Andre, Bamba; David, Yazici (63′ Ikone) (Karnezis, Bradaric, Chevalier, Niasse, Soumaoro, Weah, Yilmaz) Coach: Galtieri
MILAN (4-2-3-1): G. Donnarumma; Diogo Dalot, Gabbia, Kjaer, Hernandez; Bennacer, Tonali; Castillejo, Calhanoglu (61′ Brahim Diaz), Hauge (77′ Krunic); Rebic (61′ Colombo) (Tatarusanu, A. Donnarumma, Calabria, Conti, Duarte, Kalulu, Kessie, Maldini, Romagnoli) Coach: Bonera (substituting Pioli)

REFEREE: Pawson (England)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Pied, Xeka, Soumare (L), Bennacer, Brahim Diaz (M); Extra Time: First Half 1′, Second Half 5′

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