AC Milan kept the pressure on Inter Milan at the top of the table with a resounding victory over top-four hopefuls and nine-man AS Roma.
AC Milan had an eventful evening, securing three points and then watching third-placed Napoli play out a 1-1 draw with Juventus on Thursday. The combination of those outcomes resulted in Stefano Pioli moving within one point off Inter Milan and five beyond Napoli.
Milan were missing a host of players as some produced positive COVID-19 tests while others are on Africa Cup of Nations duty. However, Roma barely troubled them at San Siro, as the hosts recorded a comfortable 3-1 win. Olivier Giroud opened the scoring from the penalty spot after his former Chelsea teammate Tammy Abraham handled the ball from a Theo Hernandez volley.
Soon enough, it was 2-0 after a terrible back pass from Roger Ibanez found Giroud waiting in the box. The Frenchman rounded the keeper but could only direct his shot to the post, although Junior Messias was on hand to drive home the rebound.
Roma pulled one back after a somewhat busy period where they troubled the Milan defence with some tight interplay. However, Mike Maignan ensured the score remained intact after making some good stops. But the visitors found a way through when Lorenzo Pellegrini’s well-drilled shot was directed superbly into the net by Abraham to keep the game alive.
A great way to kick off 2022 ?#MilanRoma #SempreMilan pic.twitter.com/qsnXsNSrgj
— AC Milan (@acmilan) January 6, 2022
The second period was more robust, with challenges flying in from all corners. Eventually, Rick Karsporp became the first casualty as he received his marching orders for a second bookable offence. Roma kept pressing for an equaliser despite being a man down, but Milan substitutes Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Rafael Leao combined to open the defence up for the latter to smash home the third.
Things went from bad to worse for Roma as Gianluca Mancini was also sent off for a second yellow, as Milan were awarded a penalty. Rui Patricio, however, made a brilliant stop to deny Ibrahimovic from the spot as the game ended 3-1 in Milan’s favour. Here’s how Stefano Pioli’s men fared during their win over Roma at San Siro.
Mike Maignan: 8/10
A superb performance from Milan’s first-choice stopper, who made some really smart saves to keep the score in his team’s favour. Throughout the evening, Maignan kept his composure, although he was helpless when Roma scored their only goal, which denied him the clean sheet.
Alessandro Florenzi: 7.5/10
A superb performance from the former Roma man, who kept things tight at the back with his leadership qualities. Florenzi struck a brilliant free-kick which unfortunately hit the bar.
Pierre Kalulu: 7/10
Kalulu did well in a makeshift centre-half role, as Fikayo Tomori was missing from action. He kept his line tight and ensured he stayed close to Tammy Abraham and Lorenzo Pellegrini.
Matteo Gabbia: 6.5/10
Like Kalulu, Gabbia another makeshift option to replace Romagnoli, Gabbia will need to continue putting in similar displays until the regular centre-halves return.
Theo Hernandez: 7/10
Hernandez bombed down the left flank, causing Rick Karsdorp and Gianluca Mancini all sorts of problems. His pace and forward drives proved a threat and played a crucial role in winning the opening penalty.
Sandro Tonali: 7/10
A robust display from Tonali in central midfield also limited Roma’s control in the middle of the park. The Italian midfielder drew some smart fouls with some quick thinking.
Your @Skrill #PlayerOfTheMatch is #8 Sandro Tonali!
The Italian playmaker was in imperious form, mopping up in the defensive third of the field, and picking out some magnificent passes in the attacking sense.
A complete performance from a complete midfielder ?
❤️?#MilanRoma https://t.co/uEBxg8v6y6 pic.twitter.com/adZkPCGanf
— Skrill (@skrill) January 6, 2022
Rade Krunic: 5/10
Krunic got stuck in with challenges and beyond that had barely any impact from a central midfield position. He might have been played a bit out of position, as he looks more comfortable in an advanced role, which got occupied by Diaz.
Brahim Diaz: 6.5/10
Most of Milan’s attacking moments came due to their pace on the wings and the contributions of the full-backs. As for Diaz, the Spaniard had a comfortable game without creating chances or influencing the attacking third too much.
Junior Messias: 8/10
A superb display from the late bloomer, as Messias ran the show in the final third with a real spark in his gameplay. His tremendous display was duly rewarded early on as he was accurate with his movements to score from Giroud’s rebound.
2016: Junior Messias played part-time football whilst being a delivery driver
2021/22: Junior Messias scores his first CL goal for AC Milan and scores against AS Roma tonight.
What. A. Journey.
— William Hill (@WilliamHill) January 6, 2022
Olivier Giroud: 7/10
Giroud had a good game, deputising for Ibrahimovic. The Frenchman scored the opening penalty with aplomb and could have doubled the lead as he hit the post in the build-up to the second Milan goal.
Alexis Saelemaekers: 6/10
Saelemaekers continues to put in hard-working displays, and this was another one. He made some hopeful runs into the box but could not create much.
Rafael Leao: 7/10
A livewire after coming on, Leao tormented Roma’s tired legs with his pace, which he used to break into the box for his team’s third goal late in the game.
Welcome back @RafaeLeao7. We missed you ❤️?#MilanRoma #SempreMilan pic.twitter.com/EGLR6NY5pD
— AC Milan (@acmilan) January 6, 2022
Tiemoue Bakayoko: 6/10
Pioli sent in Bakayoko as Roma were having a period of pressure trying to find an equaliser. The Frenchman kept things tight in the midfield, without doing anything grand.
Andrea Conti: 6/10
After coming on, Conti was a steady presence and kept things tight on the right side of the defence, as Milan were prepared to hold on to their slight advantage over their visitors.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: 7/10
Ibrahimovic was a great influence on the team as he combined well with Leao for the third goal. Unfortunate to miss a late penalty, which did not cost his team much.
Daniel Maldini: N/A
Did not play enough to get a rating.
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