AC Milan 4-2 Celtic: Hauge-inspired Rossoneri produce incredible comeback to secure qualification

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan overturned an early two-goal deficit against Celtic to win 4-2 and book their place in the knockout stages of the Europa League.

The visitors came into the game in chaos with many fans calling for Neil Lennon to be sacked, but they found themselves two goals up early on through Tom Rogic and Odsonne Edouard as Milan were at sixes and sevens at the back.

However, the Rossoneri quickly hit back through a Hakan Calhanoglu free-kick and a goal from Samu Castillejo to ensure it was level at the break.

A Jens Petter Hauge solo goal gave Milan the lead before Brahim Diaz rounded off an excellent comeback, and with Lille beating Sparta Praha 2-1 it means that Stefano Pioli’s man are safely into the last 32.

Pioli made five changes to his starting XI from the team that beat Fiorentina on Sunday, with Diogo Dalot, Matteo Gabbia, Rade Krunic, Samu Castillejo and Jens Petter Hauge coming in giving rest to Davide Calabria, Alessio Romagnoli, Sandro Tonali, Alexis Saelemaekers and Brahim Diaz.

It took the visiting side just seven minutes to break the deadlock, and it came from Milan’s inability to play out from the back. A pass from Gianluigi Donnarumma was miscontrolled by Rade Krunic, and Tom Rogic pounced to fire into the bottom corner.

The Australia international wasn’t far away from doubling the advantage moments later. Simon Kjaer appeared to pull up with an injury but the away side played on, their move ending with Rogic whistling a shot wide of the same left post he aimed for with his goal.

Kjaer was unable to continue and Milan were forced into their first change as Alessio Romagnoli came on in place of the Dane.

The Scottish side really should have made in 2-0 in the 13th minute as the Rossoneri were again caught out at the back, though Donnarumma did well to save Callum McGregor’s shot as he was unmarked on the penalty spot.

Inside 15 minutes though Celtic did get a second goal and again Milan were cut open. Ryan Christie was the man who slid the ball through to Odsonne Edouard who was in so much space that he looked miles offside but wasn’t, and the Frenchman lifted the ball over Donnarumma and in.

Halfway through the first half, Milan got themselves right back into the game through Calhanoglu. Rebic was chopped down around 20 yards out and that’s all the invitation that the Turk needed as he despatched a gorgeous free-kick past a stranded Barkas.

With the very next attack it was 2-2, and Samu Castillejo got his name on the scoresheet. Calhanoglu sent Theo Hernandez into space down the left side and the full-back’s low cross caused chaos inside the box with Rebic backheeling into the path of the Spaniard who converted first time.

Castillejo had two big big chances to get his second and complete Milan’s turnaround, the first he slashed wide with Barkas reeling after a mistake, and the second was well blocked after he almost got through on goal after a flick on from Rebic.

As expected, Milan really began to push to fully eradicate their dismal start and get their first lead of the game, with Dalot dragging an effort wide on the volley from the edge of the box after a corner was cleared just over five minutes before the break.

The last notable chance of a frantic opening 45 minutes went to the away side though, as a corner from the right was not dealt with properly allowing McGregor to get a snapshot away from inside the box that was thankfully straight at Donnarumma.

There was another change made at the break by Pioli as Sandro Tonali came into the midfield, with Krunic making way.

Kessie was the first to test either keeper inside two minutes of the restart as the Ivorian won the ball back on the edge of the Celtic box but curled his effort straight at Barkas.

Milan would get themselves ahead and after all the chances they had created as a team, it would be a moment of individual brilliance that ended up beating the visitors. Jens Petter Hauge picked the ball up on the left touchline and darted infield, jinking past four defenders before opening his body and curling the ball inside the far post with a perfect finish.

As has been customary throughout the Europa League so far, changes were made on the hour mark. Calhanoglu made way for Brahim Diaz while Kessie was withdrawn in favour of Ismael Bennacer.

Celtic kept threatening despite the three setbacks, and Frimpong perhaps should have done better when he found space to shoot on the right edge of the box before dragging his attempt wide.

News filtered through not long after that Sparta Praha had taken the lead against Lille, which threw the group into turmoil.

Entering the last 20 minutes it seemed as though the substitutions had taken the rhythm out of Milan’s game, and Donnarumma was called into action as he produced an incredible save to keep out a free-kick from Christie that was heading right for the top corner.

With eight minutes to go though, Milan did open up a two-goal advantage and Hauge was involved again. The Norwegian bundled his way into a dangerous position before sliding a beautifully weighted through ball to Brahim Diaz, who lifted the ball over Barkas with a cheeky dink.

That would be the last notable action of the game as a wild night under the lights at San Siro was brought to a close, and thanks to Lille’s own comeback against Sparta the Rossoneri players would leave the stadium with qualification in the bag.

Tags AC Milan Milan Celtic

4 Comments

  1. MilanistiIndonesia says:

    Hauge is really good

  2. Ramy says:

    Rebic should be mentioned and given credit to for the second goal. If you watch the replay, you will actually notice that it wasn’t a fortunate defensive blunder for us that allowed Castillejo to score. Rebic actually back heeled it to Castillejo from a moving position, faking the shot. No report or anyone commenting noticed that, because it is hard to notice with the Celtic defenders trying to tackle on the floor. 🙂 Forza Milan!

    1. Oliver Fisher says:

      Having seen the replay just now, you are absolutely right! Will amend it

      1. Ramy says:

        Great! 👍

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