AC Milan continued their perfect start to the Europa League group stage with a dominant display on their way to a 3-0 win over Sparta Prague at the Stadio San Siro on Thursday evening.
A first half strike by Brahim Diaz gave the Rossoneri the lead before Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed a penalty for the hosts. However, Rafael Leao and Diogo Dalot found the target after the break to condemn Sparta to a second straight European defeat.
Milan will now turn their attentions back to domestic action as they look to continue their unbeaten start to the new Serie A campaign when they face Udinese on Sunday afternoon.
It was the Rossoneri who opened the contest on the front foot as they starved the visitors of possession and poured forward in a seemingly constant wave of attack. However, despite their dominance Stefano Pioli’s men found clear cut opportunities difficult to come by in the opening quarter of an hour.
With Sparta almost stuck in reverse and being forced to play the ball backwards even when they had possession Milan’s pressure would finally pay off halfway through the opening stanza. The host’s hard press forced a loose pass from the Sparta back line and Ibrahimovic was on hand to play in Diaz for the game’s opening goal.
Only ten minutes after setting up the opener Ibrahimovic would have the chance to double the Rossoneri’s lead when he was brought down in the box by David Lischka, but the usually infallible front man crashed his spot kick off the crossbar, much to his disbelief.
The visitors did start to show some signs of life as the half came to its conclusion, but they were unable to break down Milan’s resolute defence and would head back to the changing room still trailing by a goal when the halftime whistle sounded.
The break did little to dampen the Rossoneri’s dominance and they would double their advantage less than a quarter of an hour into the second stanza. Substitute Leao, who had replaced Ibrahimovic at halftime, made an almost immediate impact on the contest as he tapped home Dalot’s perfect low cross to give the hosts some breathing space.
Dalot would turn from provider to goal scorer less than ten minutes later when Sandro Tonali’s quickly taken free kick gave him a clear run on goal. The defender made no mistake with the opportunity as he drilled a low shot past Milan Heca to all but end the game as a contest.
With Sparta resigned to defeat the closing stages of the clash offered little in the way of entertainment as the Rossoneri held on to possession and ensured that they made it two wins from two in the Europa League.