Milan secured yet another win this evening – although it was anything but easy – and thus advanced to what is the final round of the Europa League preliminaries, namely the play-offs. Hakan Calhanoglu and Lorenzo Colombo were the goalscorers as Stefano Pioli lacked several key men.
In addition to Alessio Romagnoli and Ante Rebic, the manager was forced to deal with the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose Coronavirus test came back positive a few hours before the game. The rest of the squad were negative and this allowed them to go ahead with the encounter this evening.
As warned in the last few days, the Norweigan side were lethal in the attacking phase, looking dangerous every time they got close to the goal. This was also reflected in the scoreline as despite having just seven attempts all game, ten less than Milan, they still managed to score two goals.
Fortunately for the Rossoneri, Hakan Calhanoglu was on fire this evening, scoring two goals and assisting another. He opened his account with a stunning striker with his left foot just one minute after Glimt took the lead, firing it into the top corner. At that moment, you just knew he was going to have a good game.
He followed it up with a genius flick on Theo Hernandez’ low cross, resulting in an easy tap-in for youngster Lorenzo Colombo. The latter, who replaced Zlatan Ibrahimovic, was impressive and showed his strength on the pitch. By all means, he could act as the permanent deputy for the Swede this season.
In the second half, Calhanoglu extended the lead with a fantastic volley effort, leaving the goalkeeper with no chance. Samu Castillejo also deserves a bit of credit for that as his cross picked out the Turk from the corner. Other than that, though, the Spaniard should be disappointed with his performance.
Bodo/Glimt pulled one back just five minutes later through a fantastic strike from the edge of the box. Both goals that the Norweigan side scored were well executed, but inevitable questions must be asked about Milan’s defence. The flaws were certainly exposed this evening and Matteo Gabbia was the highlight in that aspect.
The youngster simply looked insecure and the mistakes he made didn’t help boost his confidence. It wasn’t all bad, don’t get me wrong, but as a centre-back you can’t afford to make many mistakes per game, especially not in crucial situations. In other words, a signing is needed on this front before the window closes.
The away side came close to scoring an equaliser, just as Milan had a few good chances to extend their lead, but the game finished 3-2 in favour of the Rossoneri. Pioli’s men got the job but the performance could have been a bit better, even though key players were missing this evening.
As mentioned, Milan will face Rio Ave in the play-offs, the final step before the group stage. They are the favourites once again, of course, but tonight proved that no team can be underestimated in this competition.
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