AC Milan 1-0 Torino: Giroud’s header enough as Rossoneri end winless run

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan finally ended their long wait for a win as they squeezed past Torino at San Siro on Friday night, emerging victorious by a single goal to nil.

A response was very much needed in front of the over 68,000 fans who braved the cold however the first 45 minutes was very much a repeat of previous games, as Vanja Milinkovic-Savic in the Torino goal had virtually nothing to do.

Milan found the moment of quality that they were looking for in the second half and it came from Olivier Giroud, who decided the same fixture last season. This time it was a perfectly placed header from a Theo Hernandez cross that brought about audible relief from the crowd.

It was far from a vintage performance however it was three very much needed points to end a run of seven games without a win and four defeats on the spin, registering a first clean sheet since November 8 too to move back into the top four for the time being.

Stefano Pioli made four changes to the starting line-up compared to the defeat against Inter as Malick Thiaw came in for Matteo Gabbia in the three-man defence, Junior Messias made way for Brahim Diaz, Alexis Saelemaekers started at right wing-back over Davide Calabria and Rafael Leao got the nod over Divock Origi in what was a slightly altered 3-4-3 system.

Theo Hernandez – sporting a new bleached hairstyle with a red face drawn on it – made inroads inside the opening couple of minutes as he galloped into space down the left but slashed an effort well over the bar from just inside the box.

Milan’s play in the opening exchanges was largely sloppy as they often gave the ball away in their own half and did not look any closer to resolving the problem of playing out from the back that Pioli had identified, with Miranchuk luckily lacing a shot over from 20 yards and failing to punish a bad giveaway.

The chances continued to be for the away side as Sanabria became the latest to test his luck from just outside the box having not been closed down, though the ball fizzed past the near post and should have been a corner as Tatarusanu got a slight touch.

The Rossoneri began to gain a bit of a foothill in the game and had a couple of half-chances close to the half-hour mark as Leao got into a good position but saw a cut-back towards Olivier cut out, then Theo again shanked an effort wide from inside the box.

Milan were given a huge let-off not long before half time as Sanabria pursued Simon Kjaer who tripped over while trying to play the ball inside the box handing possession to the striker, but Tatarusanu was quick off his line to thwart the danger.

Milinkovic-Savic had a quiet night in the Torino goal up until the 54th minute when Milan finally managed to counter-attack quickly, with Giroud aiming to square for Leao who was unmarked but seeing his pass deflected, and while the winger did reach it he shot straight at the Serbian who came off his line quickly.

He made another save less than two minutes later as Brahim rolled a ball through to Giroud on the left edge of the box who simply had to score, yet he struck a low shot straight at the keeper and neither Theo nor Leao could get there first as the ball was squirming behind him.

In the 62nd minute, Milan got the goal that there second half pressure had been threatening. A free-kick wasn’t fully cleared by Torino and it allowed the Rossoneri to recycle possession to Theo Hernandez, who whipped in a gorgeous cross that Giroud flicked with his head at the near post and nestled it inside the far stick.

The first change of the night came with 20 minutes left as Kjaer was withdrawn in place of Matteo Gabbia. There was a moment of panic not long after when a corner from the visitors was met with the back of Tonali’s head as he crumpled in a heap and the ball landed just wide of the far post.

The game really should have been put to bed with 15 minutes left on the clock as a corner was cleared and Kalulu was put through down the left side and provided a low cross on a plate for Theo with the outside of his boot, yet the full-back dragged his first-time effort wide.

A second change came straight after as Charles De Ketelaere replaced Brahim Diaz. With a few minutes remaining, Tommaso Pobega, Divock Origi and Davide Calabria came off for Tonali, Giroud and Saelemaekers.

In the end there would be no more drama as Milan saw out the remaining minutes rather comfortably, securing a return to winning ways ahead of the visit of Spurs in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Tags AC Milan Milan Torino


  1. Not a great performance, but I’ll take it. In a game where no one really stood out (although it Theo had score on that wide open change) for me MOTM is Thiaw. He never failed to clear his lines and was always at the right spot at the right time. He was simply concrete. I want to see more of him.

      1. Agreed, but I think Tomori suffers from playing next to Kalulu, who is very similar in style. Tomori tends to play as a “stopper”, that is he rushes out to engage. Kalulu same, which is why we have massive holes at the back. Last season it worked because A.) we had Kessie to plug the holes B.) when it was Tomori paired with Romagnoli there were no holes because Romagnoli would stay back and play as the cover CB, while Tomori could just go off and do his thing. Once the team rediscovers confidence/balance and we go back to 4 at the back, it should maybe be Tomori and Thiaw at CB with Kalulu at RB (Theo at LB of course).

    1. True. But also notice how the defense turned into chaos when Gabbia replaced Kjaer? Thiaw was pretty much the glue keeping it somewhat together in the end.

      1. Yeah, when Kjaer came off for Gabbia I got really nervous. Probably it was a change with Tottenham in mind as Pioli wants Kjaer to have something left in the tank.

  2. A much needed win. It wasn’t pretty by any standard, but beggars can’t be choosers lol. We can all sleep easy tonight and hopefully this will jumpstart the mission to salvage our season too.

  3. Win and clean-sheet. Can’t get any better than that in our current situation. This was a HUGE win for us against a tricky opponent. Probably was our last chance to get out of the crisis.

    Thiaw should start matches, while Diaz can’t go back to Madrid soon enough.

      1. This has been evident every season he’s been with us. Time for the Diaz experience to end. Let CDK get more time or just give up the ghost of the trequartista completely and play a flat 3 in a 4-3-3.

  4. I was first writing that Milan must play with 5 in defence.
    Pioli should seen that when he stayed out Maignan, for months before. Milan probably wouldn’t embarrassed themselves in many games.
    Pioli is for now lucky cat, but there are many important games.
    So Leao miss 1 on 1 chance. It looks like we can play without Leao. That boy should decide sooner better than later about his future.
    And Theo started to play upfront and Milan scores.
    Thiaw excellent and Gabbia is trash. Kjaer is over.

    1. “So Leao miss 1 on 1 chance.”

      Well… To be fair, M-S made a fine save with his perfectly timed charge. It looked more dangerous than it was.

      But that said… He (as well as Giroud & Diaz) were awful. None of them can play as a team. Everyone doing individual things and not paying any attention to what the teammates are doing. But at least two of them defended as well.

  5. This is a big three point.

    Anyone who called themself a “Milan fans” must appreciate this three points along with what Pioli and the boys works.

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