Vincenzo Montella faced with AC Milan striker dilemma as Gianluca Lapadula nets again

Despite a slow start to his career at the San Siro, Gianluca Lapadula has hit form at the right time for Milan, with their coach now having a tough decision to make as to who should lead the line.

AC Milan extended their hot streak with a 2-1 win over Crotone, Mario Pasalic and Gianluca Lapadula providing the goals for the hosts while Diego Falcinelli scored for the visitors.

Milan struggled early on as Falcinelli scored to put last-placed Crotone ahead. Soon after, the loanee Pasalic scored his first Serie A goal to equalise for Milan.

The hosts botched a couple of opportunities; Gianluca Lapadula missed an open goal, and M’Baye Niang failed to convert from the penalty spot.

Milan did get the win, however, when Lapadula provided yet another match winner in the 86th minute off the back of a Keisuke Honda free kick.

Lapadula’s recent run of good form and Carlos Bacca’s simultaneous scoring woes have forced AC Milan coach Vincenzo Montella to reconsider who he wants starting up top.

Lapadula was purchased in a shock move this summer for €9 million amid interest from other Serie A clubs, with Napoli also reportedly showing interest in his services.

It looks as though he will be the only signing to fulfil his price tag for Milan after Sosa, Vangioni, and Mati Fernandez have failed to show their worth thus far.

The Italian forward has proved clinical for the Rossoneri in the last weeks, scoring the match winner against Palermo, notching a brace against Empoli, and scoring yet another winner against Crotone, assuring Milan came out with nine points from those three matchdays.

Meanwhile, the Colombian has struggled, extending his scoring drought to eight games after getting off to a blistering start with a hat-trick on the opening week of Serie A.

In fact, Bacca has not even played the last two games, and transfer rumours have started circulating after he was seen in attendance at his old side Sevilla while his current club, at the same time, faced Empoli. Arsenal are one of the clubs rumoured to be interested in the poacher, reportedly ready to offer a sum of around 24 million to Milan.

The two forwards are basically polar opposites, Lapadula trying to incite goals with his incisive runs and build up play while Bacca is mostly a poacher, preferring to strike whenever the opportunity arises.

Montella has already expressed his content with Lapadula’s recent performances, stating that the forward is “in the middle of a fairy tale” after his recent strike.

Against Crotone, Lapadula shined, securing a penalty and slotting home the winner in the 86th minute of play.

His performance was not without blemishes, however, as he missed an open goal, knocking the ball into his own hand. He more than made up for it though when he won a penalty when Lorenzo Crisetig made a rash tackle inside the 18-yard box.

Lapadula started walking up to the penalty spot, but M’Baye Niang convinced him to hand over the spot taking duty and grabbed the ball only to miss, leaving the Milan fans booing when the Frenchman was later substituted off.

Lapadula would get his goal eventually, however.

In the 86th minute, substitute Keisuke Honda’s free kick fell to Lapadula, who calmly turned and slotted it to the left of the keeper for his fourth goal in as many appearances.

The finish was a superb one, Lapadula managing to find space surrounded by teammates and defenders, and he showed poise in the finish.

Montella is faced with a tough decision now, the majority of the fans wanting to see this fairytale continue.

The club may not be performing to the ability of Milan’s glory days, with legends such as Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard, and Marco van Basten, but this season has been a pleasant surprise for Milan fans who have become accustomed to horrid defensive play and mistake-ridden games.

It may not always be pretty, but Milan have been able to get the job done consistently, especially away from Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, where they have the best record in the league.

They feature an impressive array of youngsters among the best in the world such as 17-year-old shot-stopper Gianluigi Donnarumma, Alessio Romagnoli, Manuel Locatelli, M’Baye Niang, and Suso, giving fans hope for the future.

It will be up to Montella now, whose judgement has proved wise for Milan, as the Rossoneri currently sit joint-second with Roma, far exceeding the expectations of fans and pundits alike.

Whoever Montella chooses for next week’s match will have a tough task ahead of them as Milan look to catapult ahead of Roma with a win over the Giallorossi at the Stadio Olimpico.

Round 15 results: Napoli 3-0 Inter, Juventus 3-1 Atalanta, Milan 2-1 Crotone, Sassuolo 3-0 Empoli, Pescara 1-1 Cagliari, Sampdoria 2-0 Torino, Lazio 0-2 Roma, Fiorentina 2-1 Palermo, Chievo 0-0 Genoa, Udinese 1-0 Bologna.

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