AC Milan just about managed to grab their first three points in almost a month, thanks to a wonderful free-kick by Suso. However, Pioli’s side looked far from convincing and there is still a lot that needs to be worked on.
In the early stages of the game, Milan looked just as lost as they did against Roma, misplacing several passes and failing to keep hold of the ball. Furthermore, SPAL managed to put their opponents under pressure with ease, just by holding up their positions.
However, the first good chance fell to the home side. The defenders completely forgot about Hernandez on the left flank, resulting in a good cross from the former Real Madrid man into the box. Piatek completely miscued the ball but it nearly turned into the perfect pass for Castillejo. Unfortunately, though, the Spaniard hit the bar from close range.
This turned out to be the Rossoneri’s only chance (more or less) in the first half as SPAL continued to thrive, keeping their high line to stress the Milan players. On the other hand, they didn’t really threaten the home side in terms of chances. Then again, it was a very poor first 45 minutes by Pioli’s side.
The manager decided to bring on Calabria before the start of the second half, replacing Musacchio. In other words, Milan went back to a more traditional 4-3-3, dropping their experiment on the right flank position after just 45 minutes. Initially, it looked like the change actually helped.
Paqueta tried to take matters into his own hands as he found Hernandez with a lovely ball through the defence. However, the Frenchman went a bit too early, resulting in the offside flag being raised. Had he waited just a fraction then it would have been a lovely goal, as the finish was spot on to beat the goalkeeper.
Much like the first half, though, the Rossoneri didn’t create much and SPAL defended quite comfortably. On the other hand, the away side didn’t have many chances either, which goes to show how much both sides lacked in the final third. To switch things up, Pioli took off Castillejo in favour of Suso.
Five minutes after the Spaniard made his entrance, Piatek did well to win a free-kick in a very good position, just on the edge of the box. Of course, Suso stepped up, quickly taking possession of the ball to position it on the pitch. The Rossoneri no.8 managed to get it above the wall and past the goalkeeper, who could only watch the ball as Milan took the lead.
Instant impact, more or less, from the man who has received heavy criticism from his own fans as of late. Perhaps starting on the bench was the little kick he needed to motivate himself again. In any case, it worked out well in the end for Pioli, as Castillejo also played well prior to leaving the pitch.
After that, the Rossoneri had a few half-chances to kill the game, but once again they failed to do so (just like against Lecce). Paqueta came closest to a second goal but always tried to do a bit too much, although it must be said that his performance was a plus overall tonight.
SPAL didn’t even get close in the final minutes of the game and Milan were able to defend their lead, securing the first three points under Pioli. In other words, it’s a very important win for the San Siro, given that their confidence has been far from good due to the start of the season. However, as always, there are many things to work on. Had it not been for Suso, the post-match thoughts would have been of a different nature.
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