The clash marking matchday 4 in the Europa League between AC Milan and Lille finished 1-1. Bamba responded to Castillejo’s opening goal 30 seconds into the second half by finding the back of the net midway through the second half. It was a tough and immensely tactical match which bore witness to a composed and concentrated AC Milan side, highlighting the progress made in Serie A on the international playing field. There were many positives to take from the game, starting with Bennacer, who, precise and punctual as always, led the midfield with his strong character. Tonali had a good showing too; after a slow start, he kicked into gear and started the move that led to the Rossoneri’s opening goal. Rebić and Castillejo enjoyed good performances, as to be expected, as did Kjær and Theo Hernández.
The Rossoneri earned a precious point at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy. The draw means Pioli’s men (on whose bench sat Coach Bonera) stay hot on the heels of the Frenchmen with only two games left to play in the group stage. Everything is still to be decided in Group H, the standings of which are as follows: Lille 8 points, AC Milan 7 points, Sparta Praha 6 points and Celtic sit bottom with 1. The Scots will be the Diavolo’s next opponent, with the match set to take place next Thursday at San Siro. Before that, however, AC Milan return to league action, facing Fiorentina on Sunday with kick off at 15:00 CET.
THE STORY OF THE MATCH
The flow of the game during the early stages saw AC Milan dominate possession of the ball and Lille sit back organised and defend. The first effort at goal came in the 10th minute struck by Yazici, who tried to catch Donarumma off-guard from outside the area but instead saw his effort sail wide. In the 24th minute, the Rossoneri had their first chance: Hauge was played into space but stumbled at the crucial moment and failed to deliver the ball to Rebić who was waiting in the middle of the penalty area. The match remained deadlocked with both teams assessing each other, with clear-cut chances coming sparsely. At the end of the first half, Gigio Donnarumma had his moment in the spotlight when he tipped Araujo’s effort around the post for a corner.
The second half opened up straight away with the first turning point of the match: Tonali played a through ball to Rebić who came face-to-face with Maignan, but instead of shooting Ante played a pass to Castillejo, who found the finish for the opening goal. A few minutes went by and the Diavolo almost found a second with Çalhanoğlu, however he could only find the outside netting with a left-footed effort. The ball went from one end to the other. In the 65th minute, the ball fell to Bamba in the penalty area following a flick on the edge of the box, and the Lille man found the equaliser with his right foot. The setback didn’t deter the Rossoneri, who, after making some changes, kept their pace and possession of the ball. This continued until the referee, Pawson, blew his whistle after the full 90 minutes as well as 5 minutes of added time.
LILLE 1-1 AC MILAN
LILLE (4-4-2): Maignan; Pied (79' Djalo), Fonte, Botman, Mandava; Araújo (75' Lihadji), André, Xeka (64' Soumaré), Bamba; Yazici (64' Ikoné), David. Subs.: Chevalier, Karnezīs, Bradarić, Soumaoro, Niasse, Weah, Yilmaz. Coach: Galtier.
AC MILAN (4-2-3-1): G.Donnarumma; Dalot, Kjær, Gabbia, Hernández; Tonali, Bennacer; Castillejo; Çalhanoğlu (61' Díaz); Hauge (77' Krunić); Rebić (61' Colombo). Subs.: A.Donnarumma, Tătărușanu, Calabria, Conti, Duarte, Kalulu, Romagnoli, Kessie, Maldini. Coach: Bonera.
Referee: Pawson (ENG).
Goals: 46' Castillejo (M), 65' Bamba (L).
Booked: 12' Pied (L), 67' Soumaré (L), 91' Díaz (M).
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