Thursday December 3 2020
EL: Milan comeback crushes Celtic

Milan recovered from a nightmare start, including Simon Kjaer’s injury, to beat Celtic 4-2 and reach the Europa League Round of 32.

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The Rossoneri needed a win and for Lille to beat Sparta Prague in order to book their spot in the Europa League knockouts a game early.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Rafael Leao, Andrea Conti and Mateo Musacchio were out, but coach Stefano Pioli returned after almost three weeks out with COVID. Celtic were already doomed to last place in the group.

It was the worst possible start, because Rade Krunic was horribly caught in possession on a Gianluigi Donnarumma pass, allowing Tom Rogic to fire in from the edge of the box to put Celtic in front.

Moments later, as Rogic curled another just wide, Simon Kjaer limped off with a muscular problem.

Milan simply didn’t start the match and looked as if they were still in the tunnel when Celtic doubled their lead. Donnarumma already did all he could with a great save on Callum McGregor, but Ryan Christie’s through ball released Odsonne Edouard to chip the goalkeeper for 2-0.

They woke up with a trademark Hakan Calhanoglu free kick over the wall and into the far bottom corner.

Within 120 seconds, Milan had scored again for 2-2, with Jens Petter Hauge pulling back from the by-line and Samu Castillejo quickest to reach from seven yards.

Castillejo should’ve had another moments later, but scuffed the finish wide, then Calhanoglu clipped the top of the bar directly from the corner flag.

Inevitably, Krunic was replaced at the break for Sandro Tonali, as he seemed shell-shocked ever since that early howler.

The turnaround was complete when Hauge dribbled past four players down the left, cut inside the box and placed a snooker shot into the far bottom corner.

It still wasn’t over, as Donnarumma flew to fingertip a Christie free kick out of the top corner, but Hauge went on another wonderful run to dribble between two, release Brahim Diaz with a slide-rule pass and the Spaniard flicked his most delicate of finishes over the on-rushing goalkeeper for 4-2.

Sandro Tonali made a big block on Olivier Ntcham’s strike, acrobatically using his heel, and Donnarumma was again tested in stoppages by Frimpong.

Just as with Milan, Lille also came back from a goal down to beat Sparta Prague 2-1 and those wins mean both have qualified for the knockouts.

Milan 4-2 Celtic

Rogic 7 (C), Edouard 14 (C), Calhanoglu 24 (M), Castillejo 26 (M), Hauge 50 (M), Brahim Diaz 82 (M)

Milan: G Donnarumma; Dalot, Kjaer (Romagnoli 11), Gabbia, Theo Hernandez; Krunic (Tonali 46), Kessie (Bennacer 62); Castillejo, Calhanoglu (Brahim Diaz 62), Hauge; Rebic (Colombo 83)

Celtic: Barkas; Elhamed, Bitton, Ajer, Laxalt; McGregor, Brown; Frimpong, Rogic (Ntcham 67), Christie (Klimala 86); Edouard

Ref: Bengoechea (ESP)