AC Milan opened the Europa League group stage in impressive fashion as they outplayed Celtic on their way to a hard fought 3-1 win at Celtic Park on Thursday evening.
First half goals from Rade Krunic and Brahim Diaz gave the Rossoneri a comfortable lead at the break, but Mohamed Elyounoussi brought the Hoops back into the contest with just fifteen minutes to play. However, Jens Petter Hauge would find the target deep into added time to ensure Milan returned to the north of Italy with all three points.
Stefano Pioli’s men will now turn their attention back to Serie A action as they look to make it five wins from their first five league games when they face Roma on Monday evening.
It was the hosts who started the contest as the better of the two teams as they played some fast paced one touch football that seemed to catch Milan off guard in the early stages.
However, despite their early dominance in attack it was Celtic’s lacklustre defending that would hand the visitors the opening goal of the game just before the quarter of an hour mark. Samu Castillejo’s cross eluded everyone in green and white hoops and Krunic was on hand to nod the ball home from close range.
With an early goal to help settle the nerves under their belt the Rossoneri began to dominate proceedings as they controlled possession and limited the Hoops to fleeting attacking opportunities on the break.
The visitor’s dominance would pay off just before halftime when a ragged looking Celtic defence was breached once again by the Rossoneri. A lung bursting run down the left hand side by Theo Hernandez left the Hoops’ back line in disarray and his cross found Diaz who turned two markers inside out before sliding the ball into the bottom corner to send Pioli’s team into the break with a well deserved advantage.
Much like in the first half it was the hosts who took the early initiative in the second stanza as they looked to claw their way back into the game, but the Rossoneri back line offered nothing in the way of openings.
Despite allowing Celtic to control possession it was Milan who were still in total control of the contest as they repelled the Hoops’ attacks with a self assured ease and launched a series of well timed counter attacks that always looked like they could produce a goal.
However, the hosts would eventually find an opening in the Rossoneri defence with just over a quarter of an hour to play when Elyounoussi nodded home from a corner to set up a grandstand finish.
The visitor’s self assured ease was replaced with a nervous look of desperation in the final ten minutes of the contest as the Hoops poured forward in search of an equaliser, but a late strike from substitute Hauge calmed the nerves and ensured that Milan returned home with all three points.