AC Milan beat Slavia, West Ham rout Freiburg to cruise into Europa League quarterfinals

AP , Thursday 14 Mar 2024

AC Milan cruised past 10-man Slavia Prague 3-1 to reach the quarterfinals of the Europa League on Thursday.

AC Milan
Slavia s Mojmir Chytil, right, and AC Milan s Fikayo Tomori fight for the ball during the Europa League group of 16 second leg soccer match between Slavia Praha and AC Milan at the Fortuna Arena in Prague, Czech Republic, Thursday, March 14, 2024. AP


Milan advanced 7-3 on aggregate after winning the first leg of the last 16 tie 4-2 at San Siro a week ago.

The seven-time European champion has never won the second-tier Europa League or its predecessor, the UEFA Cup.

The competition gives the Italian powerhouse its only realistic chance to win a trophy this season after it was eliminated from the Italian Cup and currently trails Serie A leader Inter Milan by 16 points.

Christian Pulisic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Rafael Leão put the result in the second leg beyond doubt with first-half goals in Prague.

Pulisic netted from 10 meters with a low shot to open the scoring in the 33rd minute and Loftus-Cheek tapped in the second into an empty net off a precise cross from Theo Hernández before Leão curled a right-footed drive from outside the area into the top right corner in first-half stoppage time.

Slavia got a consolation goal from substitute Matěj Jurásek.

Pulisic now has 11 goals in 38 appearances across all competitions in the U.S. international's first campaign with the Rossoneri to match his most productive season — the 2019-20 campaign at Chelsea.

Slavia’s early pressure lost steam after captain Tomáš Holeš received a straight red card in the 20th minute for fouling his counterpart Davide Calabria.

Milan's first-choice goalkeeper Mike Maignan was injured early and was replaced by Marco Sportiello.

West Ham made the last eight by routing Freiburg 5-0 at London Stadium.

The Hammers reversed the first leg 1-0 defeat with the first-half goals from Lucas Paquetá and Jarrod Bowen.

Paquetá netted from close range after Tomáš Souček headed to him from a corner less than 10 minutes into the game. Bowen doubled the advantage in the 32nd.

Aaron Cresswell made it 3-0 early in the second half before Mohammed Kudus completed the rout with two late goals.

West Ham, last year's Europa Conference League champion, has won 11 straight home games in European competitions in the last two seasons.

Marseille nearly blew a 4-0 lead from the first leg against Villarreal, which scored three goals Thursday before Jonathan Clauss netted in stoppage-time for the French visitors to seal a 5-3 aggregate victory.

Benfica advanced after a 1-0 win over Rangers. Rafa Silva scored in the 66th minute and the Lisbon team held on after the sides drew 2-2 last week.

The quarterfinals draw is scheduled for Friday.

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