After beating Shamrock Rovers by 2-0 in the Europa League qualifiers, Milan secured the win in the league opener with the same scoreline this evening. Bologna never really threathend the Rossoneri, who relied on their foundations and their key players, most notaby Zlatan Ibrahimovic this time out.
The Swede managed to get on target, not just once but twice, and even came close to scoring a hat-trick as his teammates picked him out in good positions. Stefano Pioli will surely be happy with the performance as a whole, especially considering that they have had little time to prepare for this season.
Bologna did, however, start the game well and initally pinned back the home side by pressing aggressively. They failed to create any chances from it though, and subsequently Milan were able to get back into the game and take control of the possession.
After a few half chances, Ibrahimovic broke the deadlock with a lovely header in the 35th minute. Theo Hernandez did well to find him in the box, crossing from a position where you wouldn’t expect him to. The defence was, therefore, caught off guard and it didn’t exactly help that the 38-year-old is very strong in the air.
Ahead of the second half, Pioli decided to bring on Alexis Saelemaekers, who didn’t have the best of games against Shamrock Rovers. Howerver, he certainly redeemed himself this evening with an impressive display, replacing Samu Castillejo on the right flank. As things stand, he should perhaps start next game.
In the 51st minute, Milan were awarded a penalty after Ismael Bennacer was brought down by Riccardo Orsolini. The referee initially gave a free-kick but VAR quickly alerted him that the offence took place within the penalty box. Ibrahimovic made no mistake with the spot as he fired away an unsaveable effort.
Ibrahimovic came very close to a hat-trick just ten minutes later, but failed to hit the target after rounding the goalkeeper. Saelemaekers and Calhanoglu combined really well in the build-up, with the latter eventually picking out the Swede with a nutmeg pass to beat the last defender.
The Rossoneri had a few more half chances but didn’t come much closer to a third goal, which they didn’t need, of course. After the second goal, they switched off a bit and this was adresses by Pioli in the post-match interview. It’s not something he wants to see, although it worked out well this evening anyway.
“The match presented many pitfalls for the aggressiveness of our opponents. We were a team, until the second goal I liked the team in everything. Then we stopped playing and the match reopened, we must carry on our concepts and our ideas until the final whistle,” he stated.
Milan’s next game will take place on Thursday evening, also at San Siro, as Norweigan side Bodo/Glimt will make the trip for the Europa League qualififers. Although the latter have done really well as of late, anything other than a win would be a disaster for Pioli and his players.
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