After two consecutive losses, against Atalanta and Inter, Milan were hoping to put in a good performance this afternoon and send a signal to the rest of the league. Although it wasn’t their best game this season, they did come away with the three points and thus put more pressure on Inter’s shoulders.
0-3 against Atalanta and 1-2 against Inter didn’t exactly fuel the enthusiasm ahead of today’s game, but a response was needed to understand their form. And we did get it, although perhaps not in the way many had hoped, as Bologna managed to make it a bit nervy towards the end with a late consolation goal.
Nevertheless, Stefano Pioli’s men got the job done and things are starting to look up for the team, considering that many key players are on their way back. Ismael Bennacer made an appearance off the bench today and Hakan Calhanoglu will be ready for the game next weekend, which is a huge boost for Milan.
The Rossoneri’s first big chance of the game came in the 12th minute, with Theo Hernandez on free-kick duty. It seemed like a perfect position for a curling cross, but the Frenchman (perhaps unintentionally) ended up going for goal and he came close, as the goalkeeper tipped it onto the crossbar. Almost a perfect strike.
Ten minutes later, after Zlatan Ibrahimovic had missed two fantastic opportunities to give Milan the lead, Rafael Leao was brought down in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Ibrahimovic, who has missed quite a few penalties this season, stepped up and missed this one as well.
Fortunately, Ante Rebic made the most of the rebound as he scored the opener, grabbing his second league goal of the season. An important goal for Milan, as they didn’t create that many chances for the remainder of the first half. Instead, Bologna came close to an equaliser.
Gigio Donnarumma was absolutely crucial as he won two one-on-one battles, coming out and making himself big on both occassions. Once again, the young goalkeeper showed just how important he is for this team. The scores, therefore, remained 0-1 as the referee blew for half-time.
In the second half, Milan got the first say again as a Bologna defender handled the ball in the box, and yet another penalty was awarded. This time, Franck Kessie stepped up and showed Ibrahimovic how you should take penalties, converting it with ease as he played with the goalkeeper.
Pioli then made some changes with 30 minutes to go, bringing on Bennacer and Rade Krunic in place of Sandro Tonali and Ante Rebic. Ten minutes later, he also brought on Mario Mandzukic who replaced Rafael Leao on the left-wing. There and then, it seemed the game was settled by the away side.
However, with nine minutes to go, Bologna pounced on a mistake from Theo Hernandez and the former Rossoneri man Andrea Poli beat Donnarumma from close range. A shame for the goalkeeper, as he certainly did enough this afternoon to deserve yet another clean sheet.
The game finished 1-2 and that puts Milan at 46 points in the standings, currently five points ahead of Inter in second place. The pressure is now on the latter to beat Benevento this evening, and the Rossoneri will be hoping that club legend Pippo Inzaghi can do them a favour.
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