AC Milan Player Ratings vs Empoli: 8/10 Leao, Rebic shine; rest get 6 or 7

Ante Rebic and Rafael Leao made the difference as AC Milan sealed a late 3-1 win over a resolute Empoli on Saturday.

AC Milan started the game strongly, but Guglielmo Vicario made a sharp save to deny Rafael Leao from close range. But as the visitors pushed forward, Empoli found space to exploit, with Ciprian Tatarusanu making a few smart saves, although the ball nearly squeezed below him in one instance.

In addition, a couple of injuries halted Milan’s momentum as Alexis Saelemaekers and Davide Calabria went off injured before half-time. Milan took some time to get going after the break, but while Empoli posed a threat, they did not test Tatarusanu enough to establish a foothold in the game.

Milan slowly grew into the game again but had to wait until the 79th minute to break the deadlock as Leao squared the ball to Ante Rebic after taking three Empoli defenders out of the game. But Empoli seemed to have snatched a point from the game when Nedim Bajrami slotted a brilliant free-kick in the top corner.

But there was time for late drama as Fode Ballo-Toure and Leao struck in quick succession to break Empoli hearts and guide Milan back to winning ways. The result has helped the Rossoneri return to the top four, rising to third in the Serie A standings. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Stefano Pioli’s men.

Ciprian Tatarusanu: 7/10

Tatarusanu got a rare start in Mike Maignan’s absence, and he made his mark by producing a few smart saves that kept Empoli at bay. But he could not have done anything to keep out Nedim Bajrami’s scintillating free-kick that seemed to have forced Milan to drop two points before the late onslaught.

Davide Calabria: 7/10

Calabria looked intent to make things happen in the final third and constantly pushed his team forward. The AC Milan captain barely lost possession and even created a chance but picked up an injury that is adding to Pioli’s woes on the fitness front.

Simon Kjaer: 6/10

Kjaer did not look up to the game’s pace on Saturday, showing signs of lacking fitness. That would prove telling later in the match as he went off with an issue that might keep him sidelined for some time.

Fikayo Tomori: 7/10

Tomori had a busy outing at the heart of the AC Milan defence, and he stood up to the task valiantly. The English international made several crucial defensive interventions while winning five duels in a solid showing. He also passed the ball from the back reasonably accurately, unlike some of his other teammates.

Fode Ballo-Toure: 7/10

Ballo-Toure got a chance to impress against Empoli and the full-back took his opportunity with both hands. The Senegalese international was not assured enough defensively but looked the part in the final third. And he capped off a solid performance with the goal that clinched the win for AC Milan.

Sandro Tonali: 6/10

Tonali was not assured enough without the ball and lacked the precision in possession to assert AC Milan’s control of the proceedings. The Italian international completed only 75 per cent of his attempted passes while also committing an error that led to a shot from Empoli.

Ismael Bennacer: 6/10

Bennacer endured a mixed bag of an outing on Saturday, as he struggled to control the game’s tempo as well as he usually does. While he produced some positive moments, the Algerian ace switched off on a few occasions and also gave away the free-kick that Bajrami converted to bring Empoli back into the match.

Alexis Saelemaekers: 7/10

Saelemaekers was lively in the game’s opening half hour and saw a couple of chances coming his way. But his finishing was lacklustre before he picked up an unfortunate injury that Pioli will hope is not too serious.

Charles De Ketelaere: 6/10

De Ketelaere started the game strongly and created an early chance for Rafael Leao. But he faded as the minutes wore on and needs to be more consistent throughout a game.

Rafael Leao: 8/10

Leao continued to be sensational for AC Milan on Saturday. While most of his other teammates blew hot and cold, he constantly put Empoli under pressure, playing a game-high five key passes. Leao somehow failed to score early on, but he netted a deserved goal in the game’s final moments with a classy chip. Leao also served the ball on a platter for Ante Rebic for the goal that broke the deadlock.

Olivier Giroud: 6/10

Giroud has been one of the leading lights for AC Milan thus far this season, but he endured a frustrating outing against Empoli. The Frenchman did not see the ball coming his way as much as he would have liked, although he did come close to scoring with a free-kick that smashed the crossbar. But Giroud’s passing was substandard as he completed less than half of his attempted plays.


Rade Krunic: 7/10

Krunic was a bundle of energy in the hour he spent on the pitch after replacing Saelemaekers, and he constantly looked to make things happen in the final third. Such was his impact that only Leao played more key passes than him. And the Bosnian midfielder made his mark by setting what was effectively the match-winner with a deft header towards Ballo-Toure.

Pierre Kalulu: 6/10

Kalulu was not quite at his best after replacing Calabria in the 39th minute. He did not look the part in the right-back slot but improved after slotting into the heart of the AC Milan defence. But he has had much better days at the back and will hope to fare better in the coming games.

Ante Rebic: 8/10

Rebic made a telling impact off the bench as he made the difference with two of his six touches during his cameo. Shortly after his introduction, he found the back of the net after Leao found him inside the box. And Rebic helped Milan seal the deal as he released Leao for his team’s third strike.

Sergino Dest: N/A

Dest replaced an injured Kjaer with around 15 minutes left and moved the ball around smartly, completing each of his attempted passes.

Brahim Diaz: N/A

Diaz did not see the ball as much as he would have liked, even when AC Milan pushed for the win late in the game.

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