AC Milan 3-0 Stade Rennais (Feb 15, 2024) Game Analysis

Ruben Loftus-Cheek scored two headers and Rafael Leão added a third as AC Milan secured an emphatic 3-0 home win over French side Stade Rennais in the first leg of their Europa League playoff tie on Thursday.

Milan, who dropped into the Europa League after finishing third in their Champions League group, might have posted an even more convincing victory had it not been for desperate defending but will still take a handy lead into next week’s second leg.

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Loftus-Cheek guided Alessandro Florenzi’s cross into the net for Milan’s 32nd-minute opener and reacted quickest two minutes into the second half with a diving header after the French club’s veteran goalkeeper Steve Mandanda parried away a shot.

Leão played a skilful one-two with Theo Hernández to make it 3-0 in the 52nd minute as Milan dominated the clash at San Siro.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek celebrates his first goal with Milan teammate Christian Pulisic.

Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

There was surprise away win for Azerbaijan’s Qarabag as they romped to a 4-2 triumph at Braga in Portugal to give themselves every chance of reaching the round of 16.

In the other late kickoff games, Argentine forward Angel di Maria converted two penalties as Benfica edged French strugglers Toulouse 2-1 and  Lens‘ home clash with Germany’s Freiburg ended goalless.