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HomeUEFA Europa LeagueRennes 3-2 AC Milan: Rossoneri move past the French persuasion

Rennes 3-2 AC Milan: Rossoneri move past the French persuasion

Milan progressed to the Europa League last 16 despite suffering a 3-2 defeat away to Stade Rennais, relying on Luka Jovic’s, Rafael Leao’s, and their first-leg 3-0 victory.

Despite having a comfortable 3-0 lead from the first leg, Milan was coming off a 4-2 Serie A defeat to Monza due to significant squad rotation. Ruben Loftus-Cheek was rested, allowing Tijjani Reijnders to take on a more advanced role. Rafael Leao and Christian Pulisic returned to the starting XI. Davide Calabria, Fikayo Tomori, Pierre Kalulu, and Tommaso Pobega were sidelined due to injuries, while Jan-Carlo Simic and Alex Jimenez were ineligible. Rennes was missing Mahamadou Nagida, Enzo Le Fée, and Fabian Rieder but opted for a more attacking approach by starting Amine Gouiri.

After just 90 seconds, Steve Mandanda parried Rafael Leao’s angled drive with his legs, and a decisive tackle from former Bologna defender Arthur Theate prevented the Portuguese forward from making an impact.

However, Rennes seized the lead when Ismael Bennacer’s heavy touch during a promising counter-attack led to a turnover, allowing Benjamin Bourigeaud to fire a low shot into the bottom corner from outside the box.

Christian Pulisic squandered a glorious chance to equalize with a heavy touch in the box. Still, Milan managed to level the score when Tijjani Reijnders played a ball down the left, and Theo Hernandez delivered a first-time cross onto Luka Jovic’s head. It marked the Serbian’s 11th goal in just 15 Europa League appearances.

Mike Maignan reacted urgently to save Arnaud Kalimuendo’s close-range volley into the ground, while Simon Kjaer blocked a curling shot from Gouiri, and Arthur Theate missed the target with a header from a free kick.

Milan vs Rennes: Pioli’s men vie for European glory

On the brink of halftime, Leao squandered another opportunity from a promising counter-attack, as Warmed Omari didn’t fall for his step-overs.

After the break, Leao failed to capitalize on another excellent attacking move, shooting straight at the veteran Mandanda as he rushed out.

A contentious penalty was awarded when Terrier attempted to turn Kjaer and bumped into the defender. Despite Maignan diving the right way, Bourigeaud converted the spot-kick into the bottom corner.

Nevertheless, Leao finally capitalized on one of his numerous chances, equalizing to make it 2-2 moments later. He initiated the run from midfield, shrugged off Alidu Seidu, and, despite Mandanda and Omari’s efforts to thwart him, Leao managed to poke the ball into an empty net from a tight angle.

Rennes was awarded another penalty, this time with the help of VAR, as Kalimuendo’s header from a Bourigeaud free kick struck Jovic’s arm from close range. Bourigeaud completed his hat-trick by beating Maignan once again.

Ethan Dempsey
Ethan Dempsey
Ethan is a lifelong football fan. When he is not obsessing over the Premier League games, Ethan likes to read fantasy tomes, watch football documentaries and waste hours upon hours on video games.
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