AC Milan started the match without a recognized striker, meaning that Milan would have to find its scoring touch from other players on the pitch. And despite having no strikers in the lineup, Milan popped up for four goals against a team that up until this point had a pretty decent defensive record in Serie A. And while Milan did allow a goal in the second half, again, with the three goals already on the board, a lack of clean sheet wasn’t a crisis as it had been in the previous league matches.
Suso went close in the 4th minute with a powerful shot that went off the post from a tight angle on the right-hand side of the box. Milan surrendered a lot of possession in the first half-hour, as the Milan midfield seemed unable to control the ball on a consistent basis.
The defending often left something to be desired, although they did do a decent job of at least making it difficult for the opposing team’s forwards to get clean shots on net. The forwards, however, seemed to struggle without a central striker in the lineup. Samu Castillejo played in the middle for the first 10 minutes or so, but switched out to the left with Hakan Calhanoglu taking up the role of a “central” forward. Calhanoglu, however, is more willing to drop back into the midfield to try and pick up the ball and drive it forward than either Castillejo or Suso, which does leave space in the middle where you would expect a striker to be playing.
Kessie's effort cleared off the line. pic.twitter.com/mYGODv7kfh— TheMilanBible (@TheMilanBible) September 30, 2018
Franck Kessie had a shot cleared off the line in the 26th minute. Kessie chipped it over the keeper, but his shot wasn’t placed with a lot of power and because Milan can’t buy a goal at the moment, it was cleared off the line as a Sassuolo defender raced back in order to clear the ball out of the box.
Sassuolo probably should have scored two goals in the next ten minutes, as Donnarumma saved a sure goal as Federico Di Francesco shot the ball right at the big keeper who did well to cut down the angle by making himself big and advancing on the shooter.
Milan denied another good chance as Ignazio Abate made an inch-perfect tackle to deny a scoring opportunity after a totally horrible back pass from Giacomo Bonaventura had sprung Sassuolo as if the attacker had received a brilliant though-ball. Abate’s perfect tackle denied a simple tap-in at the far post, and his tackle even sent the ball into touch rather than back into the net, a task that was almost impossible given the area from which Abate made the tackle, sliding towards his own net while not fouling the Sassuolo forward in the process.
Kessie opened the scoring in the match with a goal for Milan after he broke out of the Milan half just outside of Milan’s penalty box. After he was given space and time to dribble all the way to the Sassuolo’s penalty box, and while it seemed that the Sassuolo players dared him to shoot, as they covered up passing lanes, Kessie responded by putting a great shot on goal that zipped past the Sassuolo keeper.
Right after the start of the second half, Suso grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and put Milan into the lead. After getting the ball on the right-hand side of the box, he took on the defender, put the ball on his left foot, and unleashed a shot that dipped right into the top corner, giving Milan a 2-0 lead.
CASTILLEJO GETS HIS FIRST MILAN GOAL & WHAT A GOAL IT IS!— ItalianFootballTV (@IFTVofficial) September 30, 2018
Turning point for Milan?pic.twitter.com/GpH7LyNC2E
Milan’s Castillejo got in on the fun a few minutes later with a brilliant strike from the top of the box. The Spaniard was left all alone at the top of the box and he was able to pick his spot on the top corner of the goal. The finish was nonetheless quite impressive.
Sassuolo got a goal back in the 68th minute, as Djuricic struck a nice shot into the back of the net, although it appeared that Alessio Romagnoli was fouled in the build-up, leaving Kevin-Prince Boateng offsides and shielding Donnarumma from seeing the shot.
71': Cutrone on for Castillejo.— Meytar Zeevi (@RossoneriBlog) September 30, 2018
Castillejo was taken off in the 71st minute for Patrick Cutrone, as Milan finally decided to play with a striker once the club took a 3-0 lead. Sassuolo did appear to try and find a way back into the match after he had scored their first goal of the match, but despite a couple good chances, they found it a little difficult to score.
Diego Laxalt was brought on for Hakan Calhanoglu in the 77th minute as Gattuso decided to put on a more defensive player to try and hold onto the scoreline. And while Laxalt might be best at going forward, he is still nonetheless a better defender than any of other winger options that Milan had on the bench.
Milan had at least one great chance that was wasted in the final few minutes of the match, as Diego Laxalt was all alone and free in the box, but his pass across the face of goal didn’t find another Milan player as no other player in white had made a run.
Davide Calabria came on in the 90th minute for Ignazio Abate as Milan looked to waste a few moments right before the beginning of stoppage time. Milan scored a fourth goal at the death of the match from a Suso free kick that took a deflection. There was a question of offsides, but the goal was given after consultation with VAR.
Milan needed this win and this will hopefully get rid of some of the pressure and questions of Gattuso that had been facing the manager after the relatively poor start of the season for Milan. It’s on to the Europa League later this week for Milan, where hopefully Milan can continue their run in Europe after beating Dudelange 1-0 in Luxembourg.