GdS: Milan take advantage of another early red to coast into UEL quarter-finals

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan navigated a potentially tricky evening in the Czech capital well, winning 3-1 on the night to secure a spot in the Europa League quarter-finals.

La Gazzetta dello Sport (seen below) begin their analysis of the game by stating that the Slavia ultras are not Tibetan monks, as shown in the second half when various objects including vapes, lighters, glasses full of beer and other junk rained down on the pitch.

As in the first leg, the performance was facilitated by Slavia Praha. At San Siro Diouf was sent off, here the red card was given after a VAR review to the captain Holes for a stamp on Davide Calabria.

The man advantage gave Milan wings – Christian Pulisic on the right and Rafael Leao on the left to be exact – with the complicity of Theo Hernandez, making the Slavia defence suffer. In Europe nobody gives you anything, so it was important to settle the tie as quickly as possible.

Stefano Pioli, however, knows that opponents of greater calibre await. Leao showed what he can be capable of, when he wants to. One objection: why did Pioli keep him on the pitch until the end, like Giroud? Couldn’t he have been spared some effort ahead of Sunday’s race in Verona?

Slavia attacked as expected early on, but with excesses of enthusiasm, and if the aggression borders on malice, sanctions are inevitable.

Immediately there was a warning after a hard challenge from full-back Vlcek on Maignan ready for a clearance. The French goalkeeper hurt his knee and asked for a substitution a quarter of an hour later. The referee did not warn Vlcek and the Czechs perhaps interpreted this as a green light.

More and more possessed, they pressed and countered with extreme vigour. Maignan prevented a Chytil goal with the foot of his injured leg, but then shortly after came the turning point as Holes’ tackle on Calabria was punished with a red card.

Slavia were therefore down to ten men like in the first leg, when Diouf was sent off after 26 minutes, but Milan didn’t flicker like at San Siro. Instead, they they got straight to the point and froze the hot atmosphere with three quickfire goals before the break.

In the second half Milan made sure that the accumulated capital did not depreciate. It was pure game management, without further impulses, perhaps also having an eye on Sunday’s game against Verona and the battle for second.

Slavia had the satisfaction of scoring the only goal of the second half, and it came from Jurasek with a nice left-footed shot. It was greeted with an ovation similar to a goal that had just won a Champions League final, showing the fans just wanted something to cheer.

What now? The question is one: what chance do Milan have of going all the way in the Europa League and winning it? Neither few nor many, let’s be honest. Liverpool are stronger and it will be best to avoid them in the quarter-finals, with the hope that they stumble.

Against all the others – including the Italians – Milan play on equal terms or from an advantageous position, including Bayer Leverkusen who struggled to eliminate the Azerbaijani side Qarabag, perhaps because they are more focused on the Bundesliga.

Milan’s problem is their mentality: the team doesn’t always have the correct attitude. An encouraging stat to end: the Diavolo won their fifth European match of the season, and the last time they did better was in 2006-07 with seven successes in the Champions League. We know how that ended.


Tags AC Milan Slavia Praha Milan
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