Despite being under tremendous pressure, Milan managed to clinch all three points in front of their home crowd, beating Lazio after they were awarded a penalty late in the second half.
The win means they are once again fourth in the standings, after Roma had knocked them down earlier today thanks to a win against Udinese. Therefore, the pressure was on Gattuso’s men to deliver tonight, and they eventually did, although the game was a close one.
The first half offered end-to-end stuff from both sides, which is understandable given the respective position they were in. A must-win for Milan, while it was a big chance for Lazio to edge closer to the top four with one game in hand.
The first period of the first half was mainly controlled by Lazio, who got the first chance of the game after just three minutes. Brilliant footwork by Correa resulted in a great chance for Immobile, but Reina made a fantastic save with his right hand to deny the striker from close range.
Eventually, around the 30-minute mark, Milan came around and started to create chances of their own. Suso had the first say after Piatek set him up inside the box, but it was a tough pass to deal with and the Spaniard failed to hit the target. Piatek himself followed that up just one minute later with a great header, which seemingly had Strakosha beaten, but not the post.
The second half didn’t offer as much pace and intensity to begin with, as both sides were forced to unwanted substitutions. For one team, it paid off more. Caicedo replaced Correa almost straight away, while Calabria and Romagnoli left the field injured ten minutes in. Laxalt and Zapata came on to replace the latter two.
Gattuso thus decided to switch formations, implementing a three-man backline consisting of Musacchio, Zapata and Rodriguez. Borini and Laxalt took on the roles as wingbacks while Suso and Calhanoglu played in behind Piatek. This emergency change made them more stable at the back, while they continued to create chances up front.
In the 76th minute, the referee awarded Milan a penalty for a handball on Acerbi, which later was correctly overturned by VAR. However, two minutes after that, Musacchio was brought down by Durmisi in the box, and Rocchi pointed to the spot once again. Kessie didn’t miss the opportunity to give his side the lead with a cool penalty, sending Strakosha the wrong way.
Understandably so, Milan then shifted their focus towards defending, and did so with success. Lazio failed to create any dangerous chances towards the end, with the Rossoneri coming closest to scoring the second of the game. Cutrone and Suso both had their chances in the dying minutes, but couldn’t find the back of the net.
The game finished 1-0 and Gattuso will certainly be happy with the result. Not only for the points, but also because his emergency change worked, and the players he picked performed well. Borini comes to mind, having been heavily criticised by the fans, but today he showed exactly why the manager has faith in him. Hopefully, the team can keep up the good run, after two impressive games.
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