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Milan Player Ratings: Milan 2-0 Atalanta

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Milan return to where they belong

Atalanta BC v AC Milan - Serie A Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

After 8 long years of disappear and crushing seasons, AC Milan is finally back where they belong, in the Champions League. I for one didn’t have much faith going into this match as I thought Atalanta was going to be too much to handle for Milan no matter how hard they fought. I had even more doubts as the game started because it seemed that Milan was very content to sit back and absorb everything that Atalanta threw at them. Atalanta dominated play and it didn’t seem likely that Milan was going to score. However, Milan kept absorbing pressure with ease and halted every Atalanta attack but could Milan score? In the 43rd minute, Milan caught a nice break as Theo Hernandez was taken down inside the box. Kessie stepped up and made no mistake placing it into the bottom corner. At the half, Milan had the slight lead.

The second half was the same as the first half with Milan absorbing pressure and hoping to score a goal on the counter. The defence of Milan continued to be solid not giving Atalanta any real chances to score. Milan finally got a chance on the counter with Meite and Leao bursting forward. Meite sent Leao through, but Leao hit the post, giving Milan fans flashbacks of the Niang miss versus Barcelona. Milan kept fighting and clawing to keep Atalanta scoreless. In the final ten minutes, it was Franck Kessie who was the star, he kept the ball in the corner wasting time to close out the match. Then Milan won a penalty, and it was Kessie again scoring to double the lead and secure the Champions League. For Milan fans around the world, this team fought till the last minute to secure their spot and when Franck scored the second penalty real tears came from the eyes of Milan fans everywhere. Finally, they are back home.

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STARTING LINE-UP

Gianluigi Donnarumma: Gigio didn’t have to make any real saves, but he took command of his penalty area. His pulling crosses and corners out of the air were a big factor in getting the victory. 7/10

Davide Calabria: Calabria locked down the right side for the majority of the match. He did drop a bit late in the match, but he looked gassed and that was the main factor. Davide fought and gave everything he had. 7/10

Simon Kjaer: Kjaer was a rock. He kept up with Zapata and surprisingly outmuscled him in basically every battle. Kjaer was so impressive. 7/10

Fikayo Tomori: To go along with Kjaer, Fikayo was class in this match. He was aggressive and chased down every Atalanta attack. His pace was vital to the defence in this match. 7/10

Theo Hernandez: I don’t think Theo was as good as the rest of the defence but overall, still good. He won the first penalty and that was crucial. 7/10

Franck Kessie: Kessie is the best player on the team and everything he does is just perfection. He gave every ounce of his soul for this match, and it showed. He held the ball in the corner to waste time and he scored two penalties to finally kill off Atalanta. 10/10

Ismael Bennacer: Bennacer was probably the worst on the pitch for Milan. He gave away the ball in very compromising positions. Since coming back from injury, he has struggled quite a bit. 5.5/10

Alexis Saelemaekers: Saelemaekers wasn’t great offensively, but Milan didn’t need his offensive greatness in this match. He was a menace on the defensive side and helped the defence a lot by tracking back. 6.5/10

Hakan Calhanoglu: Hakan was fine in this match. I don’t think a match like this favours was what he usually tries to do for Milan but he gave effort defending, he even won a penalty. 6.5/10

Brahim Diaz: Like Hakan, Brahim was decent in this match. He tracked back well and had some nice footwork that drew fouls on some Atalanta players. 6/10

Rafael Leao: I still would like to see more fire from Leao but he was winning some aerial duels against tough defenders. However, you have to finish a chance and not hit the post. 6/10

SUBSTITUTES

Rade Krunic: Rade didn’t do much when he came on but he wasn’t tasked with doing much. He didn’t make mistakes and made some nice turns getting found to waste time. 6/10

Soualiho Meite: Meite came on and performed well. He was fairly disruptive in the midfield and almost had a great assist to Leao. 6.5/10

Mario Mandzukic: Mario did well when he entered the pitch. He was good in the air and pressed when needed. 6/10

Diogo Dalot: Dalot helped Calabria in the dying minutes of the match and that was key to victory. 6/10

Manager

Stefano Pioli: What can I say, Pioli, got it right with both tactics and substitutions in this match. He was content to sit back and take everything Atalanta threw at them then hit them back on the counter to score. Grande Pioli and Pioli’s on fire! 7/10