AC Milan 3-0 Stade Rennais – Ruben Loftus-Cheek nets double as hosts cruise to UEFA Europa League victory

Ruben Loftus-Cheek gave AC Milan one foot within the UEFA Europa League spherical-of-16 with a nicely-taken brace earlier than Rafael Leao heaped extra distress on Rennes, who’ve a 3-purpose mountain to climb within the return leg subsequent week.
Milan appeared a handful for Rennes proper from the opening levels of the sport with Leao, Tijjani Reijnders and Yunus Musah going shut to scoring earlier than Loftus-Cheek broke the dam simply after the half-hour mark.
He hit his fifth and sixth objectives in eight video games towards Rennes, each coming from assured headers that mirror his purple patch earlier than Leao all however ended the tie with a medical third.
Rennes substitute striker Amine Gouiri did convey some life to the French facet with 20 minutes to go and will nicely have performed himself into the beginning 11 for the house leg, however they’ll want way more than that after being utterly outmatched by Milan.

It may have been much more than a 3-purpose deficit too, had Stefano Pioli not opted to relaxation a few of his star gamers with Milan sat eight factors behind leaders Inter in Serie A.

They face Monza subsequent Sunday earlier than welcoming fourth-positioned Atalanta per week later, however could possibly be ready to higher put together for that sport if Pioli can rotate his squad within the return leg towards Rennes. And he obtained an extra enhance as the San Siro welcomed again Malick Thiaw from the substitute’s bench after lacking two months with a hamstring damage to assist ease Milan’s defensive damage disaster.

Talking level – Sorry Rennes smothered by Milan

Rennes had been solely compelled into the Europa League play-off spherical thanks to an damage-time winner towards Villarreal being (accurately) disallowed by an obscure free-kick rule, and turned up in Milan like they nonetheless thought they didn’t have to be there.

The hosts loved over 90% possession within the opening exchanges with Rennes seemingly wanting to soak up stress and play on the counter-assault with the likes of Martin Terrier and Guela Doue.

Initially that technique was profitable, with Milan failing to actually break open the defence and sometimes resorting to longer-vary efforts, however Loftus-Cheek’s purpose modified all the things.

Though Rennes ended the primary-half on the entrance foot, that gave the hosts a take a look at how to break them down after half-time and Loftus-Cheek’s second purpose moments after kick-off appeared set to settle the encounter.

However, Leao’s purpose was the ultimate nail within the coffin. He’s an attacker that usually seems to help a crew-mate quite than rating himself and typically favor a half-likelihood that he can assault on intuition to a transparent-lower alternative that leaves him too lengthy to suppose.

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He definitely made probably the most of this one although, with an excellent first-time end again previous Steve Mandanda securing victory a minimum of on the night time.

Player of the Match – Ruben Loftus-Cheek (AC Milan)

Is it too late to power his means into Gareth Southgate’s summer time plans? It can’t be out of the query with the run of type Loftus-Cheek is on, and with 4 British sides ready within the final 16 of the Europa League he might nicely get the chance to show himself on dwelling soil.

None of Loftus-Cheek’s objectives confirmed outrageous talent however that made them no much less spectacular, quite it was his want to attain the ball together with his head and ship it goalwards – significantly the second – that comes with a purpose document such as his in 2024.

He was merely hungrier than the Rennes defenders, and rightly earned him a standing ovation at full-time.

Player Ratings

AC Milan: Maignan 7, Florenzi 8, Kjaer 7, Gabbia 6, Hernandez 7, Musah 7, Reijnders 8, Pulisic 8, Loftus-Cheek 9, Leao 8, Giroud 6. Subs: Bennacer 7, Adli 6, Okafor 7, Thiaw 6, Terracciano 6.

Rennes: Mandanda 6, G Doue 7, Omari 5, Theate 5, Truffert 6, Bourigeaud 4, Matusiwa 5, Santamaria 6, D Doue 4, Kalimuendo 5, Terrier 5. Subs: Gouiri 7, Blas 6, Salah 6, Seidu 6, Nagida 5.

Match Highlights

6’ – FIRST CHANCE: Rafael Leao has taken the primary shot of the sport, however a vital deflection by Omari despatched it up onto the crossbar and out for a nook.

32’ – GOAL! AC MILAN 1-zero RENNES (LOFTUS-CHEEK): It’s a deserved lead for AC Milan! Alessandro Florenzi swung a teasing cross in and Ruben Loftus-Cheek attacked it with goal, sending his header arrowing into the underside nook!

47’ – GOAL! AC MILAN 2-zero RENNES (LOFTUS-CHEEK): He’s doubled the lead! Milan might have already got one foot within the Europa League spherical of 16, Kjaer flicked the nook on to power an excellent response save from Steve Mandanda, however Loftus-Cheek acquired there first with an excellent diving header.

53’ – GOAL! AC MILAN 3-0 RENNES (LEAO): Is it nonetheless just one foot within the spherical of 16? Leao might have simply iced the tie, he is an excellent participant that solely misses objectives from his sport however he is snagged one there, netting a pulled-again cross clinically.

58’ – COULD’VE BEEN 4: The nook practically yielded one other purpose! Rennes could not clear the nook as Mandanda flapped on the ball and it dropped to Leao, nevertheless it was an ungainly peak and he could not flip it goalwards with any energy.

Key Stats

  • Rennes have by no means overwhelmed an Italian facet away from dwelling, and that pattern continues.
  • Olivier Giroud missed the prospect to change into the fourth-oldest goalscorer within the Europa League knockout levels.

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