After two consecutive draws, Milan bounced back with a win this afternoon to retain their spot at the top of the standings, beating Sassuolo 1-2. Extremely important for Stefano Pioli’s men as despite the several key injuries, they continue to perform on a high level.
Rafael Leao, who has been criticised in the last few weeks, opened the scoring after just six (yes, six!) seconds and thus set a new record for the fastest goal in Serie A history. Since Zlatan Ibrahimovic is injured, the Rossoneri were assured that the Portuguese youngster can play in the centre-forward role in the meantime.Nine minutes later, Calhanoglu thought he had doubled the lead with a distinct effort, reversed roles this time as Leao claimed the assist. However, VAR overruled it for an offside in the build-up, which was anything but clear. Fortunately, Milan did double the lead in the 26th minute.
Theo Hernandez tried to set Sandro Tonali free, but as the midfielder was in an offside position, he left the ball for the left-back to chase. And with his pace, he was soon through on goal and eventually squared it to Alexis Saelemaekers. In the second half, they conceded a sloppy goal but managed to hold on. Down below are three things we learned.
1. Defensive display was much better
Compared to the games against Parma and Genoa, in which the Rossoneri conceded a total of four goals, today’s outing was much better defensively. Pierre Kalulu and Alessio Romagnoli worked hard together and barely allowed Sassuolo any chances throughout the game.
As mentioned, the goal was very fortunate for the home side and it’s a shame that Milan couldn’t hold on to the clean sheet. In any case, it didn’t affect the outcome and it’s clear that the new centre-back pairing is looking better and better for each game that passes. Avanti cosi!
2. Leao has enormous potential
In addition to the goal, which was fantastic to say the least, Leao played a really good game in the centre-forward role. He has received some criticism in recent weeks for being too lazy, and while that is justified to some extent, the youngster’s potential is enormous and he really showed this today.
When he wants, he can beat any defender with his dribbling and pace. Kalulu often found him with a few long balls, drifting out wide, and no one can deny the fact that Milan’s system is a bit different with him up front. Not in a bad way, though, as he showed today that he can score as well.
3. Kessie will miss Lazio clash
The Ivorian was booked in the second half and will miss the game against Lazio as a result of this. A bit harsh, one could argue, but the foul he gave away was also a bit unnecessary. As Tonali picked up an injury in the first half, Milan might have to play with Rade Krunic and Calhanoglu in the midfield tandem.
On a positive note, though, Hernandez was not booked and will be available for the important game. His absence sure was felt during the Genoa game and his assist today was a perfect example why Milan need him for the big games.
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