#ACMilan XI: Donnarumma; Borini, Bonucci, Zapata, Rodriguez; Kessie, Biglia, Bonaventura; Suso, Cutrone, Calhanoglu— AC Milan (@acmilan) March 18, 2018
Subs | Panchina: Donnarumma A., Storari, Antonelli, Conti, Gomez, Musacchio, Locatelli, Mauri, Montolivo, Tiago Dias, André Silva, Tsadjout#MilanChievo pic.twitter.com/n0fcRlDI0x
It’s fair to say every match from here on out is pivotal in deciding the fate of the 2018 campaign. Today is no exception, even at home against an arguable weaker side in Chievo Verona. Certainly they’re not a team to sleep on, but one should expect a comfortable and solid shift of work, given what both teams are currently fighting for.
Gennaro Gattuso will have AC Milan trying to bounce back from their woeful, if not ref-induced, loss in the Europa League this past week. The message to his players and staff will surely be to focus on the league for here on out, and good things could happen.
Add into the mix that Chievo Verona haven’t won away since September, and have struggled mightily to find the back of the net in all competitions, anything less than a comfortable three points will draw criticism, particularly with a rumored new contract on the line for Rino.
Milan will see out the day 3-0, with goals from Patrick Cutrone (2), and Hakan.
It was all Milan, all the time, in the opening sequences of the match. Milan came out patient, testing the lanes and breaking down Chievo Verona’s defensive lines slowly, dominating possession. That patience would eventually pay off as Hakan Calhanoglu would pounce on an opportunity. Franck Kessie’s cross would bounce off of the glove Sorrentino, and land at Hakan’s feet. No Verona defenders were to be found on the back post and Milan were up 1-0 early.
Chievo Verona showed some fight in the middle of the first half, climbing back into possession, and testing Milan’s back line. If only Chievo were a bit more clinical we’d have a much closer match on our hands. Milan kept to their script of attacking in threes down the sides of the pitch. My only issue with that tactic is it snails the counter and leaves Milan playing catch up in transition.
That’s exactly what transpired as Chievo stunned a nearly sold out San Siro...
Chievo then caught Milan as they were still shell-shocked from the first goal.
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Milan came out firing once again, this time with a bit more purpose. Franck Kessie had quite a few opportunities to punish the Chievo back line but failed to impress. Unfortunately, Franck wasn’t having his best match.
The possession arrow would remain in Milan’s favor as they continued to push up field, unrelenting in their pressure. Lucas Biglia would attempt a difficult low drive on net, which would be blocked by the keeper, setting up Patrick Cutrone to play hero. At first glance, the goal did look to be offside, but this time, VAR would prove otherwise. To everyone’s surprise, Cutrone was on side at the time of Biglia’s drive, allowing for the equalizer.
Milan would then switch to a 3-5-2, subbing off Fabio Borini for Andre Silva, the hero of Genoa as he’s become to be known. Gennaro looking for the kill and all three points, as you’d expect.
The poor play from Franck Kessie continued to plague the Milan side as endless crossing opportunities were fluffed. The sloppiness spread like a virus as even the often sure-footed Bonnuci found himself losing possession easily. Milan would spend the remaining 15 minutes just pouring on the attack, relentlessly searching for that winning goal.
Heroics from Andre Silva was needed, and he did not fail to deliver! Unmarked from a corner delivery, Silva poached a loose ball right in front of net, and he could not miss.
Franck Kessie’s night would only get worse. In the 91st minute, a handball is given inside the box on a VAR review. Kessie steps up to take the penalty, seemingly looking to make up for his poor play, but fails to convert. The kick was his mildly to the keeper’s right, and blocked easily.
That’s how it would all finish. Sloppy, gritty, but deserved. The Rossoneri needed three points to remain in the hunt for a Champions League spot, and they took care of business. Gattuso has plenty to think about going into the week. As Rino has stated before, a win is a win, and Milan is not Brad Pitt. It’s not always pretty, but we’ll take it.
Man of the Match
Sure there were plenty of goals to pick from and cases to be made for man of the match, but Suso never stopped. Every positive action and attack seemed to have started from the Spanish winger. Whenever he received the ball on the wing, you took notice, knowing something special could happen at any moment.