Milan Trample Sparta Praha to Collect Second Europa League Win

It was an easy Europa League night for Milan at the San Siro as the Rossoneri routed Sparta Praha 3-0 in their second group stage game with goals from Brahim Diaz, Rafael Leao, and Diogo Dalot. Milan even took the luxury of seeing Ibrahimovic miss a penalty.

The Czech were coming from a 1-4 humbling at the hand of Lille last week and didn’t provide any better opposition tonight. So, Stefano Pioli could use the occasion to do some turnover and give space to some of his non-regular starters.

Pioli deployed Diogo Dalot as left back to give Theo Hernandez some time to rest. Behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic, he confirmed in Samu Castillejo, Rade Krunic, and Brahim Diaz the trio of offensive midfielders he had used against Celtic Glasgow one week ago. Sandro Tonali joined Ismael Bennacer in the middle of the park.

Milan hit the gas and opened the scoring in the 24th minute as Brahim Diaz pressed hard David Lischka and stole him the ball, which he exchanged with Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Zlatan served the Spaniard from the right and the former Real Madrid and Man City man gave a sample of his class by dribbling his marker with his left foot and slotting the ball home with his right. It was his third seasonal goal, the first one scored in San Siro.

Milan could have made it two before the end of the first period but Ibra unexpectedly missed a penalty as he hit the woodwork from the spot. The Swede was charged by Lischka in the box and referee Halis Özkahya had no doubts in pointing at the penalty spot.

The Czech side appeared impalpable while Milan were lethal from fast breaks. Right after the restart, Rafael Leao – who had just substituted Ibrahimovic – went one-on-one with goalkeeper Milan Heca. The goalie denied him and repeated himself from Sandro Tonali’s subsequent effort to keep the score unchanged.

Not for long, however. In the 56th minute, Ismael Bennacer whipped a long-range cross for Diogo Dalot and the Portuguese served his fellow countryman Leao with a trivela, making it a child play for Milan’s number 17 to double the Rossoneri‘s lead.

Diogo Dalot turned finisher a few minutes later as he scored the third for Pioli’s side, making the best out of another brilliant Bennacer cross from behind the midfield line.

There seemed to be only one team in the field. Brahim Diaz did whatever he wanted, serving Samu Castillejo with a filtering pass after getting rid of his marker with another magic trick. Ondrej Celutska managed to stop Casti before he could do further damage. Diaz was literally unstoppable for Lischka and Celutska had to save the day again after the Spaniard nutmegged him for the umpteenth time.

The last minutes were garbage time, good for the likes of Leo Duarte, Franck Kessié, and Daniele Maldini to collect a few minutes on the pitch. Stefano Pioli’s mind must have already been at this Sunday’s Serie A match at Udinese – but going there with two Europa League wins out of two games will surely make things easier for him and the Rossoneri.



October 29, 2020 – Europa League 2020-21 Group Stage

SCORERS: 24′ Brahim Diaz, 57′ Rafael Leao, 66′ Diogo Dalot

MILAN (4-2-3-1): Tatarusanu; Calabria (68′ Conti), Kjaer, Romagnoli (81′ Duarte), Diogo Dalot; Bennacer (81′ Kessié), Tonali; Castillejo, Krunic (88′ Maldini), Brahim Diaz; Ibrahimovic (46′ Rafael Leao) (A. Donnarumma, Moleri, Calhanoglu, Colombo, Hernandez, Kalulu, Saelemaekers) Coach: Pioli
SPARTA PRAHA (4-2-3-1): Heca; Sacek, Celustka, Lischka (80′ Plechaty), Hanousek; Pavelka, Travnik (80′ Karabec), Vindheim; Dockal (90′ Patrak), Krejci (63′ Karlsson); Julis (63′ Kozak (Kotek, Nita, Plavsic, Polidar, Vitik, Wiesner) Coach: Kotal

REFEREE: Ozkahya (Turkey)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Dockal, Lischka (S); Extra Time: First Half 1′, Second Half 2′