The efforts of Patrick Cutrone and Giacomo Bonaventura ensure that Milan win their third game in a row, and that a second half of the season comeback could be on the cards.
Today’s game featured Lazio, who are currently third in the table, visiting the San Siro in a must win game for both sides. Milan needed a victory in order to recover from their early season and to make sure they are able to have a shot of playing any European Football next season.
The opening 15 minutes of the game were completely dominated by Milan with Suso firing a shot just wide of the Aquile goal and Hakan Çalhanoğlu forcing a good save out of goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha.
Milan’s strong start resulted in a goal as Çalhanoğlu whipped in an excellent cross that Patrick Cutrone headed in. Despite looking like a great header at first, replay showed that Cutrone turned the ball in with his hand but no VAR was used and as a result the goal still stood.
Lazio responded almost immediately within five minutes as Adam Marušić equalised after being left unmarked by left-back Luca Antonelli. The Montenegrin international was able to curl his shoot into the bottom corner of Gianluigi Donnarumma’s goal. With the scores level, both teams looked to take the lead and take control of the game.
Later, Suso blasted a free-kick over the bar, but then Luis Alberto nearly stunned the San Siro into silence as his fantastic effort struck the upright of the Milan goal.
Despite this scare, Gattuso’s men responded in spectacular fashion with another ferocious shot by Çalhanoğlu, stinging the palms of Strakosha. Shortly after, a brilliant team move ended with Giacomo Bonaventura meeting the end of a wonderful cross by Davide Calabria with his head to give the host a needed boost entering the tunnel.
The second half featured Milan playing a more defensive game in order to save some energy for Wednesday’s Coppa Italia match again against Lazio. Sergej Milinković-Savić came close to scoring on three occasions but the brilliance of young Donnarumma ensured that the score remained at 2-1.
Lazio should have equalised on the 85th minute, but Senad Lulic missed a glorious chance as the ball bounced off of his knee and thus the game ended in Milan’s favour in a 2-1 victory.
Under Gattuso, Milan are starting to look like a team that can actually challenge for a Champions League Place.
The Milan defence which has been shaky all season has started to look a lot more solid under Gattuso, and the only goals being conceded are mostly down to individual errors like the one that happened again today with Antonelli leaving Marušić unmarked.
Leonardo Bonucci and Alessio Romagnoli are beginning to form a fantastic partnership at the centre of the defence with both players putting in another solid performance today. The improvement in Romagnoli this season from last season is clear to see and Bonucci, who started the season terribly, is back to playing at his world class level.
Most importantly however is the man of the match performance by Davide Calabria who had his best ever game in a Rossoneri shirt.
In September’s reverse fixture in which Milan suffered a 4-1 loss at the Stadio Olimpico, the young Italian was unable to deal with Lazio’s attacking play but today was a different story. Calabria assisted Bonaventura’s goal with a fantastic cross, made 52 passes and won nine tackles on the right side of the defence today.
Moving into the midfield three of Bonaventura-Biglia-Kessie, the trio were all able to make sure that Lazio’s biggest threat, Sergej Milinković-Savić, remained quiet and had little impact on the game with Kessié coming out on top in the battle of the young midfielders. It is worth noting that since Gattuso has taken over for Montella, Bonaventura has drastically improved his game – and has four goals to show for it.
The front three of Çalhanoğlu-Cutrone-Suso also had a great game with the teenager scoring and Spaniard winning a huge number of fouls in dangerous positions to benefit Milan.
Çalhanoğlu was the most dangerous of the three though and the Turkish international deserves a huge amount of praise. Milan’s number 10 had two dangerous shots on target, an 89% pass accuracy and made the assist for Cutrone’s opening goal. The ex-Leverkusen playmaker is another who has thrived under Gattuso, improving his game and showing his worth in the attacking third.
Today’s victory over Lazio showed that Milan are starting to look dangerous under Gattuso and the three points are huge in their attempt to try and finish in a Champions League position despite there being a ten point gap between them and their city rivals Inter who are in fourth on 44 points.
Milan will look to continue the momentum of three wins in a row when they face Lazio in the week, the first leg of the semi-final of the Coppa Italia, while also ensuring they are prepared for an important fixture away against an in-form Udinese at the Stadio Friuli next Sunday.