NEWS
Thursday December 13 2018
EL: Milan crash out to Olympiacos

Milan are out of the Europa League after a 3-1 defeat to Olympiacos, but it was decided by an extremely controversial penalty.

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The Rossoneri could afford to lose and still qualify, albeit not by two clear goals, as they visited Athens for the final Europa League group game. Along with long-term absentees Alessio Romagnoli, Mattia Caldara, Giacomo Bonaventura and Lucas Biglia, Suso was not risked due to a muscular issue, starting Samu Castillejo instead. Olympiacos had to do without Lazaros Christodoulopoulos, Yassine Meriah, Dimitris Nikolaou, Nahuel Leiva, Yaya Toure, Ahmed Hassan and Alexandros Voilis.

Pepe Reina had to sprint off his line to clear from Miguel Angel Guerrero within 20 seconds, as a long ball had surprised Cristian Zapata.

Hakan Calhanoglu fired straight at Jose Sa, while Ignazio Abate made a crucial interception to stop Guerrero nodding in from six yards.

Patrick Cutrone’s through ball released Gonzalo Higuain, though Jose Sa rushed off his line to parry at his feet. On the resulting corner, Cristian Zapata’s header into the ground was palmed over the bar.

Reina completely missed a corner on 26 minutes, but Guilherme’s follow-up was charged down by Cristian Zapata. Franck Kessie stung the goalkeeper’s gloves at the near post, but Reina also got down well to palm a Fortounis free kick round the upright.

Straight after the restart, Giannis Fetfatzidis cut inside to curl just wide of the far post with his left boot from the edge of the penalty area. Kessie did the same with a ferocious strike skimming the upright, but Calhanoglu wasted a golden opportunity on the counter.

Reina smothered an impressive Omar Elabdellaoui volley, but Milan were caught out on a corner.

It was taken short, Higuain back in defence charged down the initial header, but Pape Abou Cisse turned in the rebound.

Milan came pouring forward to get it back on track, opening up huge spaces at both ends. Cutrone and Higuain fired just wide, but Reina performed a desperate save on Fortounis and the Podence follow-up was cleared off the line by Cristian Zapata.

Olympiacos got the goal they needed to go 2-0 up with a stroke of luck, as the Guilherme shot from distance took a huge deflection off Cristian Zapata’s ankle to loop over Reina and into the far top corner.

However, within 110 seconds he had made up for it, his header from a corner squirming under Jose Sa and only cleared after it had crossed the line. With this result, Milan would still be qualified, but they couldn’t lose 3-1.

Abate made a heroic block on Guerrero from point-blank range after Castillejo had been left behind, but Olympiacos received a very soft penalty for Abate having an arm on the shoulder of Vasilis Torosidis. Fortounis converted by sending Reina the wrong way and suddenly Olympiacos were in a position to qualify.

The hosts tried every trick in the book to waste time, from goalkeeper Jose Sa needing treatment for cramp to the ball boys throwing extra balls out every time Milan attacked.

Olympiacos 3-1 Milan

Cisse 60 (O), Zapata og 70 (O), Zapata 72 (M), Fortounis pen 81 (O)

Olympiacos: Jose Sà; Elabdellaoui, Vukovic, Cisse, Koutris; Camara (Torosidis 79), Guilherme; Fetfatzidis (Natcho 69), Fortounis, Podence (Bouchalakis 85); Guerrero

Milan: Reina; Calabria, Abate, Zapata, Rodriguez (Halilovic 85); Castillejo, Kessie, Bakayoko, Calhanoglu; Cutrone (Laxalt 78), Higuain

Ref: Bastien (FRA)

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