AC Milan 4-2 Slavia Praha: Rossoneri obtain two-goal lead after worrying performance

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan ensured that they will take an advantage to Prague next week as they beat Slavia Praha 4-2 in a dramatic first leg encounter in their Europa League last 16 tie.

The fact that Milan scored four goals, won the game and walked off the pitch perhaps not feeling best pleased says a lot about how the game went. A red card for Diouf swung the momentum in favour of the home side, especially when Olivier Giroud found the opener, but Doudera’s equaliser stunned the San Siro crowd.

Tijjani Reijnders and Ruben Loftus-Cheek struck in quick succession before the interval to give the Rossoneri a 3-1 lead at the break and it looked like job done, but then Schranz halved the deficit. Christian Pulisic’s tap-in gave breathing room again, yet when the full-time whistle went there was an absence of cheers that spoke volumes.

Stefano Pioli elected to make one change from the side that beat Lazio on Friday night with Tijjani Reijnders coming into the midfield in place of Ismael Bennacer.

The referee Umut Meler laid the law down early when he booked Alessandro Florenzi as he clipped Konecny while he went to try latch on to the ball, and that means he will miss the return leg in Prague.

Slavia probably should have got their first yellow card in the 10th minute when Olivier Giroud spun his man and was clipped to the floor right on the edge of the box. A dangerous free-kick position resulted, but Florenzi’s effort was whipped onto the roof of the net.

The away side then had a couple of their own opportunities. The first was when a cross from the right wing to the far side of the box looked to have found Diouf perfectly but he whiffed at the attempted volley, then Doudera find some joy cutting inside past Matteo Gabbia yet he sliced his shot wide much to Mike Maignan’s relief.

After 26 minutes, Slavia were reduced to 10 men for what at first glance seemed to be a regulation foul on Pulisic. Diouf definitely brought the American down, but San Siro seemed in shock when Meler produced the red card, though replays showed he went with studs into his Achilles.

The red card rather predictably changed the momentum of the game, and Milan took the lead on 34 minutes. Pioli’s side worked the ball around the edge of the box well and found Leao, who cut inside and seemed to whip a shot that was heading wide but allowed Giroud to stoop in and head in at the far post having been played onside by the last man.

However, the response from Slavia could hardly have been better as they equalised inside a couple of minutes. A corner was cleared from the penalty spot but only to just outside the box where Doudera was waiting to hit a beautiful volley that Maignan could only tip in off the post.

Milan then had to set about restoring their advantage, and Leao drew a good stop from Stanek to deny a Leao header, but then he made an even better stop from a corner as Gabbia’s header seemed destined to find the bottom corner.

As the pressure suggested, the Rossoneri did get themselves in front and it came from Reijnders. A short corner was not properly closed down by an increasingly tired looking Slavia side, and the Dutch midfielder was given time to step into a shot which he thumped into the bottom left corner.

Another goal followed before the break and again it came via a set piece. Florenzi took the corner just as he did for the second goal, whipping it into a very dangerous area this time where Loftus-Cheek was waiting with the simple task of heading into the back of the net past a helpless Stanek.

Pioli decided to make two changes at the break with Fikayo Tomori and Davide Calabria coming on, taking the place of Gabbia and Florenzi, the latter of whom was on a yellow card.

In the first half the Czech side were able to commit the bodies over to limit Leao’s influence, yet the space began to appear after the red card and he almost got his name on the scoresheet early in the second half when he opened his body and bent a shot just wide of the far post.

Despite the rest of the game seeming like a formality, Milan again conceded from a set piece and again it was a ball in they didn’t properly deal with. The delivery was flicked on to the far side of the box where Schranz was waiting to bring it down unmarked and hammer a shot inside the far post.

A couple of minutes after the goal, Pioli decided to go two up front with Luka Jovic coming on for Loftus-Cheek.

The home fans begun to get more and more restless as Milan struggled to dominate the game despite having a man advantage, and the final two changes saw Noah Okafor and Ismael Bennacer come on for Giroud and Reijnders.

Jovic wasn’t too far away from making another big impact off the bench when he swung a boot at Leao’s cut-back and connected well with it though it swept wide of the near post.

With just over five minutes left on the clock, Milan did get themselves back into a two-goal lead and the had Leao to thank. A quick move saw the ball spread wide to the winger who toyed with the defender before dinking the ball over the goalkeeper, and it looked like Pulisic arrived to get the final touch to send it over the line.


Tags AC Milan Milan Slavia Praha


  1. That was an embarrassing pile of sh!t. To put it into perspective, Liverpool went away to the team above Slavia Prague in the league and smashed them 5-1. We struggled against ten men at home…They were unlucky, it was never a red card they could have been 2-0 up after 15 minutes.

    I say it week after week, we can’t break teams down, we have a lot of the ball so that satisfies those fans who look at statistics only, but we do a whole lot of nothing. We don’t look dangerous. It is moments rather than a cohesive team performance.

    Rafa was the best player, without him we are a heap of cr@p, it’s his moments that keep us from losing. Great strike by Reijnders.

    It’s like we turn up to a match and the players haven’t been training together all week../

    1. Yeah, tight defenses have been our Achiles heel. We either need a very strong physical striker ala Lukaku or Ibrahimovic that can abuse defenders and open spaces just with body strength or more players that can dribble and pass in tight spaces.

      1. I think it’s mentality too, the mentality that Pioli is imposing on the team. We also don’t have an outlet. City always have that De Bruyne to Haaland in the shoulder of the last defender option. I think our next striker need pace. Adli can play those passes but he’s having to play them into tight crowded spaces. I want to see more of Okafor as CF playing off the shoulder of the last defender, not just 8 minutes to give Giroud an early night.

        Good teams will always find themselves up against the low block. It’s up to us to unlock it. We are too one dimensional relying on moments of Rafa genius.

        1. But every now and then they keep saying “sell Leao” “He’s no good”

          Imagine Milan without Leao.

          Any comments on that, wise one?

          1. I’ve repeated time and again that selling Leao would be putting us back by years. It’s not just the loss of Rafa, but also the partnership with Theo. Those two are unsellable, not just for their individual brilliance, but also they ar probably the best partnership in Europe along with KDB/Haaland and Vini/Bellingham.

            I criticised Rafa earlier on in the season as he seemed disinterested, but we simply cannot lose him. 175m does not get you what we lose. It’s his ability to strike fear into teams when he gets the ball.

            We are close, we have a good team with some world class players, the most important signing even above a striker would be a new coach.

    2. It is exactly like that, and has been all season. Our buildup play looks aimless and our vertical passing accuracy is woeful. We have been really difficult to watch since we won the league – same problems last two seasons, but THAT is probably one of the worst team performances I’ve seen since the mid 90s when we were dire for a couple of years.

      I’m not having it that they’re a dangerous team. Liverpool just completely dismantled their rivals without breaking sweat. Awful, just awful.

  2. I’m a big fan of Pioli and I think our season is going decently overall, nothing disastrous, but that was the worst performance I’ve seen since getting hammered by Inter. Really lacking ideas and forward movement. Leao and Pulisic constantly started runs in behind but we took no risks to find them at all, despite the extra man, very few efforts to really play in behind the space they left. Should make it through but the second leg is going to be worrying when it really shouldn’t.

    1. Agreed dude. I mean it’s so infuriating, Leao and puli constantly makes the run but we too chicken to try go for the pass. This might be our worst game of this season.

  3. Slavia is stronger than expected, next week away is worrying match. It’s kinda sad that I can’t be secured despite having 2 goal advantage against weaker team.

    1. I don’t think they are. They had absolutely nothing about them, but neither did we.

      Games of football with that amount of goals usually get labelled a ‘thriller’, and yet that was virtually unwatchable.

  4. Well this is a first. At 43 I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game of football with 6 goals in it and come away saying “that was awful”

    I tell you what, if we play like that at their place we’re going out.

  5. Nothing would ever make me want Conte at Milan but something has to change.

    Something’s definitely going on with Chukwueze too, no minutes at all? I think Musah starts RW against Empoli too

    1. You are so right!!! We need Conte and we need 3-5-2. I know Leao can play as a striker next t Girod, Jovic or any of the other strikers we are linked to. For the rest of the positions in a 3-5-2 we only need one starting 11 signing – in defence- get Buongiorno from Torino, we have the rest…

      1. I couldn’t care less if Conte will play 6 man defense whatsoever. What we really need now is someone who can bring back our team identity and mentality.

      2. The LAST thing we need is Conte, what’re you smoking?! Defensive style is what’s killing us. It’s obvious we’re not a group built for it. Why would you willingly bring in a defensive coach just like Pioli, who’s also known for quick downfalls at every club? Imbecile

  6. Very week performance, Im not sure what can be done about Pioli at this time of the season , but as a fan I don’t care, I just want to enjoy watching games and I can’t.
    I think he should be sacked right away without waiting to the summer.

    It’s horrible performance in last 4 month

  7. I would also add, no player player particularly badly, (Kjaer had a few nightmares), it’s just the overall team performance. There’s no cohesion. Like R said, Leao and Pulisic making runs but nobody brave enough to go for that pass l.

    People will look to portion blame on players but for me that isn’t the problem

  8. What of the most embarrassing displays. Here was truly laid out how bad Piolis tactics are. I am worried for the game agaisnt empoli without Leao. With a full strength Slavia next week at their home, expect trouble. victory but with a bad taste in my mouth

  9. I know we score 4 goals tonight, but we play awful 90% of the match. Idk if it’s the coach tactics or what but shockingly bad performance. All we do is passed the ball around with the defenders. I feel bad for the fans who bought the ticket to watch. I almost switch off the tv after 25 min. So infuriating to watch. Only Adli who seems spirited to play. RLC movement off the ball makes it feel like we play with only 10 man. And don’t get me started with kjaer, worst player on the field tonight.

  10. Still thinking about winning the UEL just like the media keep saying? Not with that performance. A winning team just can’t concede 2 goals being 1 man advantage for almost 70 minutes. If we past thru the quarter final it’s because the lucky draw. Pioli really went from Pioli Ball to Leao Ball.

  11. I wouldn’t even call that a performance. We scored 2 goals from set pieces (Glad we finally improved on that though !) and a solo run. Our defense is as leaky as ever, and it was against a team who played with 10 men pretty much the entire game.
    I wouldn’t dare imagine what would have happened had we played 11 vs 11 in a full game.
    But enough negativity, at least we have the lead and we just have to not spoil that. That should be doable.

  12. I hope Pioli doesn’t play Loftus next game and either puts Reijnders or Pulisic as an AM. I feel like other than the goal Loftus did nothing today. This team is really lacking motivation and I don’t see us getting a win against Empoli given the way we have been playing the last 2 games

  13. We do not seem to have solutions for 2 types of teams, those with a low block and those that press. We beat Lazio ( good pressers), only just, we beat Slavia ( low block mostly) not convincing…unless we have a coach that can solve this issue, we will struggle. Teams have figured us out, hence they will either run at us or sit back (lately they give Leao no space to run by doubling up their man marking). We seem to be better at open play type of teams like Atalanta and Napoli, but take for instance Inter, they will run at us and we will fold. Our vertical passing is non existent, Adli is trying, but with our off the ball runs not happening as it should, he will forever run into dead ends…the same is happening with Pulisic, he either runs into a wall or pass the ball back, no off the runs or support play from RLC or others to help with the interchanges to get pass defenders. This weakness repeats itself game after game, and if the coach doesn’t have an answer we will battle through games that we are supposed to win comfortably. Giroud’s hold up play is atrocious these days, not helping with our passing game either. We are all happy for the win, but do we always have to labour’s for it…

  14. The first 20 or so minutes was dreadful, awful, terrible to watch. The red card came in handy, without it we would have most likely played out a barren draw. Our passes were just going sideways..
    The fact that a team with 10 men succeeded in scoring 2 goals against us says a lot about our defense and total setup in my opinion.

    The second leg will not be easy at all. We scored 3-0 against Rennes and lost away. This time around, we could not keep a clean sheet at home, and we are not likely to do so away. We will likely lose the away game; the margin we lose will determine if we go ahead or not.

    The odds are not in our favor at all. I do not foresee any trophy this season irrespective of all the talk, Pioli is not walking the talk. No clear gameplay apart from the speed of Leao and the sure head of Giroud. Florenzi should be renewed for another year, he is a good backup. his crosses and long shots are better than Calabria’s .

  15. I wanna know how the Conte fanboys are trying to justify wanting to play this type of football every week? Why on earth would we sack one defensive coach for another? It is blindingly obvious this squad isn’t built to play that style. We need someone who is bold and doesn’t sit back parking the bus all game. Conte is the LAST thing we need for this club. Get some brain cells together

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