Milan handed Celtic test in Europa League after Pioli's play-off relief

By Sports Desk October 02, 2020

AC Milan must navigate a tricky route through the Europa League group stage after surviving a dramatic play-off.

Stefano Pioli's team will face Celtic, a team they have frequently battled with in the Champions League, along with Sparta Prague and French club Lille in Group H.

Milan looked like being eliminated on Thursday until a last-ditch spot-kick in extra-time against Portuguese side Rio Ave gave them a 2-2 draw, and the Rossoneri went on to win 9-8 on penalties after a lengthy shoot-out.

They have been regular foes of Celtic in the Champions League, with the teams drawn to face each other in four seasons from 2004-05 to 2013-14, and Milan also lost to Lille in that competition during the 2006-07 group stage.

A 2-0 setback against the Ligue 1 side did not prevent Milan going on to become European champions in that campaign, but they are fallen giants in Italy who are slowly getting back into shape under Pioli.

Jose Mourinho's Tottenham will tackle Ludogorets, LASK and Royal Antwerp in Group J, with the Portuguese manager looking for a repeat of the Europa League triumph he achieved with Manchester United in the 2016-17 season.

Friday's draw also saw Roma handed tests against Young Boys, CFR Cluj and CSKA Sofia in Group A, while Group F will see Serie A and LaLiga collide, with Napoli and Real Sociedad drawn alongside Dutch outfit AZ and Rijeka of Croatia.

Arsenal, led by Mikel Arteta, will face Austrian side Rapid Vienna, Norwegian outfit Molde and Irish club Dundalk.

Europa League group stage draw:

Group A: Roma, Young Boys, CFR Cluj, CSKA Sofia
Group B: Arsenal, Rapid Vienna, Molde, Dundalk
Group C: Bayer Leverkusen, Slavia Prague, Hapoel Beer Sheva, Nice
Group D: Benfica, Standard Liege, Rangers, Lech Poznan
Group E: PSV, PAOK, Granada, Omonoia
Group F: Napoli, Real Sociedad, AZ, Rijeka
Group G: Braga, Leicester City, AEK, Zorya Luhansk
Group H: Celtic, Sparta Prague, AC Milan, Lille
Group I: Villarreal, Qarabag, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Sivasspor
Group J: Tottenham, Ludogorets, LASK, Royal Antwerp
Group K: CSKA Moscow, Dinamo Zagreb, Feyenoord, Wolfsberg
Group L: Gent, Red Star Belgrade, Hoffenheim, Slovan Liberec

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