Europa League

Hauge leads record-breaking Milan into Europa League Last 16

Jens Petter Hauge guided Milan past Sparta Prague on Thursday, Pioli's side now on a record away run and the Norwegian leading Serie A's young guns.

Milan boss Pioli hails match-winner Hauge

Milan head coach Stefano Pioli lauded Jens Petter Hauge following his match-winning display against Sparta Prague in the Europa League as the Serie side produced further evidence that this season could be a special one for the red and white half of Milan. Hauge's first-half strike saw Milan past hosts Sparta 1-0 on Thursday as the Rossoneri secured top spot in Group H.

The 21-year-old nutmegged Tomas Wiesner before placing a precise low finish beyond the reach of goalkeeper Milan Heca.

Hauge – the youngest Serie A player with four-plus goals across all competitions in 2020-21 – has scored four goals since arriving from Norwegian champions Bodo/Glimt at the start of the season, and Pioli praised the midfielder.

Hauge impresses in Europa League

"When we met Hauge as an opponent, he already proved what he could do, so we hoped he'd continue that form with us," Pioli told Sky Sport Italia.

"He's not yet complete, so can improve even more, and we're very happy with his performances.

"I think his best skill is the one-on-one. He's quicker on the ball than off it, but I think he needs to alternate and do better at running beyond the defender to get the ball. He can't always just take men on.

"He has many areas in which to improve, such as his focus in defence throughout the 90 minutes, but we had seen his qualities and the club did very well to sign such an interesting prospect."

Youthful Milan set another record

Milan – who also top Serie A this season – remain unbeaten for at least 18 games played away from home in all competitions for the first time since March 1993.

The Rossoneri, meanwhile, had four players born after January 1, 2000, in their starting XI for the first time in their history.

"When I started the season, I had faith, because it's a quality group, a united group, but clearly it was unthinkable that we'd get these results," Pioli said.

"We are doing very well to play games to the full, forget them immediately and move on to the next challenge.

"That is our greatest strength and the players who haven't played as much are the ones who are most important, as they allowed us to keep up the tempo in training and in matches when we have a packed fixture list."