Milan restored their three-point margin at the top of the Serie A standings this evening, beating Cagliari by two goals to nil away from home. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the big hero with a brace and despite a red card in the second half, the Rossoneri managed to hold on and secure another clean sheet.
It didn’t take long for Ibrahimovic to get back on the scoresheet, winning a penalty after just six minutes. Although Franck Kessie is the penalty taker, the Swede felt confident and decided to take it himself. A good decision, as he sent the goalkeeper the wrong way and easily slotted in the first goal.
He followed that up with an early goal in the second half, pouncing on a terrific long ball from Davide Calabria. The goal was initially disallowed for offside but after a VAR check, it was given. Alexis Saelemaekers was sent off in the 74th minute after getting his second yellow, but Milan held on. Down below are three things we learned.
1. Ibrahimovic is back in form
The Swede made his first league start since recovering from the injury and certainly didn’t disappointed, as already described. It became very clear this evening just how important he is for the team with his clinical finishing and holding play. Hopefully, he can stay fit until the end of the season.
Rafael Leao will be back from suspension for the Atalanta clash, but we can expect to see Ibrahimovic up front for the one, perhaps with the Portuguese on the wing. Ante Rebic, who is still COVID positive, also has a chance of recovering in time for the game but Ibra’s presence will be the big key.
2. Meite looked very encouraging
The Frenchman, just a few days after being announced by the club, made his debut as he came on in the 72nd minute. Obviously, it wasn’t easy for him as Milan went down to ten men and he had to defend a lot. However, he handled the situation brilliantly and looked very good from what we saw.
He’s clearly very comfortable on the ball and that is always a good trait. In addition, he showed his strength in the duels and it will be very interesting to see him in the upcoming games. Should he continue like this, the €10m transfer fee could turn out to be yet another bargain for the Rossoneri.
3. New back-four expected vs. Atalanta
Alessio Romagnoli was booked in the first half and will thus miss the game against Atalanta. This means that we will see a new back-four composition this weekend, which hopefully will include Simon Kjaer. The Dane left the pitch at half-time with a bit of back pain, but Stefano Pioli stated it’s nothing serious.
Alongside Kjaer, we should see the young Pierre Kalulu, who has been so good lately and impressed yet again this evening. He’s extremely comfortable on the ball and often finds creative solutions, also handling his defensive duties very well. Milan perhaps don’t need to be too worried, in other words.
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