A third win in as many Serie A games for AC Milan saw them momentarily climb to sixth in the Serie A table on Friday evening with the dream of European qualification starting to become a real possibility for the Rossoneri, nevertheless it was a difficult night for Stefano Pioli’s men as they were put under the pump by Brescia.
Ante Rebic grabbed the headlines for the Rossoneri as his third goal in his last two Serie A games was enough to earn his side all three points. However, Gianluigi Donnarumma was the hero for Milan as he made several fantastic saves early in the second half to keep the score deadlocked when it looked like the Leonessa were going to provide an upset.
In the aftermath of the game Pioli eluded to the fact that Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s addition to the squad has helped his side find some confidence in their abilities, but he cut a frustrated figure when he was questioned about the discontent brewing around Krzysztof Piatek’s future, preferring to talk only about the players at his disposal.
Milan now find themselves in the middle of a battle for the final Europa League qualification place with only goal difference separating them from Cagliari in sixth and they will be favourites to reach the Coppa Italia semi-final when they face struggling Torino on Tuesday evening. A season that appeared to be a catastrophe for the Rossoneri could be coming good.
Problems at the back
However, if Pioli’s team have genuine desires of qualifying for Europe and winning the Coppa Italia they will need to shore up their back line as Brescia, who’ve only scored 19 goals in 21 games, pulled them apart with relative ease.
Despite controlling possession in the first half the Rossoneri always looked vulnerable under the counter attack and from set pieces. The Leonessa probably should have taken the lead when Sandro Tonali lost Alessio Romagnoli at a corner but the midfielder failed to find the target.
Only moments later it was Simon Kjaer’s turn to go missing as he lost Florian Aye in the box and Donnarumma had to get down well to bail out his struggling defence.
In the second half the whole team became defensively inept as they backed off and failed to close down the Brescia front two and allowed their midfield the time to create chances. Ernesto Torregrossa looked in his element as he continuously exploited the space left by Kjaer and Andrea Conti down the right, but he just could’t find the finishing touch.
For all their hard work the Leonessa lacked the end product but Milan will need to be better without the ball going forward as teams like Juventus, Lazio and Inter won’t be so wasteful when given chances.
The only thing missing from Donnarumma’s performance was an ‘S’ on his chest and a cape on his back as he showed once again why he is one of the best in the world and why losing him in the summer could be catastrophic for the club.
He had little to do in the first half but when Aye eluded Kjaer he showed his fantastic reactions for such a big man as he got down low to the turn the ball around the post.
Not even he could have expected quite how busy he would be after the break as his back line deserted him and he was left to face a barrage of shots from the Biancazzurri.
However, like all good superheroes the 20-year-old provided his best work when his team needed him the most as he closed the door on Torregrossa over and over again.
Rebic to the rescue… Again!
Rebic has been an interesting figure for the Rossoneri so far this season as he has struggled to cement a spot in the starting XI despite turning in solid performances whenever called upon. It was only several weeks ago that reports suggested that he would return to Germany before the end of January.
Having scored three goals in his last two Serie A appearances it now seems unlikely that his future will lie away from the Stadio San Siro as he has become one of Pioli’s most reliable charges.
His second half strike, which was his first goal outside of Milan in Serie A, was the lifeboat that the Rossoneri needed as they looked to be sinking under the constant pressure being asserted by the hosts.
After the goal he provided the physicality Pioli’s men had been lacking all evening as he stamped his authority on the midfield and helped to bring stability to a wayward performance.