AC Milan got back to winning ways on Monday night at San Siro with a narrow 1-0 win over struggling Torino.
Rather predictably it was Ante Rebic who established himself as the difference maker once again, netting his sixth goal of the calendar year so far in the first half to fire the Rossoneri to victory.
The result means that Milan move up to eighth in the table, level on points with sixth-placed Hellas Verona as well as Parma in seventh, and it also condemned the visitors to a fifth straight league defeat.
Stefano Pioli was forced into a change on the day of the game as Hakan Calhanoglu missed out with a muscle problem; Lucas Paqueta coming in to replace him as the trequartista in the only change from Thursday’s draw with Juventus.
The Rossoneri gave the visiting side a scare in the opening three minutes as a corner was not properly cleared by Simone Edera, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s shot deflected narrowly wide with Salvatore Sirigu wrong-footed.
Despite the fact Milan saw the majority of the ball and had begun making inroads into the compact Torino low-block, il Toro served a reminder of their capabilities as Alex Berenguer fired over inside the box first time from a Lorenzo Di Silvestri feed.
Up the other end, Milan were inches away from taking the lead through Paqueta; the Brazilian seeing his low effort saved at full stretch after Ibrahimovic had neatly flicked it into his path from Rebic’s break down the left side.
In the 25th minute Milan took the lead with a goal perfectly indicative of the way Pioli wants his side to play as the high press pinned the Granata into the corner.
Berenguer then gave the ball away and Paqueta played Castillejo through; the Spaniard finding Rebic with a fantastic feed that the Croatian finished expertly for his sixth goal of the year so far.
GOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLL! REBIC! pic.twitter.com/DCy72pmoc4
— MilanGifs (@MilanGifs) February 17, 2020
In terms of opportunities there was a lull between the goal and half time as Milan allowed Torino to asserts themselves into the game slightly more, but mainly through needless fouls resulting in dangerous free-kicks.
In the 44th minute Pioli was forced into an early change though as young centre-back Matteo Gabbia came on for his Serie A debut, replacing Simon Kjaer who landed awkwardly when clearing a ball for a corner.
Milan had the first big chance of the second half as they once again countered at pace down the left side. In the end, Theo Hernandez’s pass was flicked through to Ibrahimovic by Castillejo, though the Swede fired narrowly wide from the right edge of the box with his powerful first time shot.
Minutes later another huge opportunity was spurned by the Rossoneri, once again on the break and this time with a ball finding its way through to Castillejo; the ex-Villarreal man seemingly having too much time as he dragged his effort into the side netting at the near post.
The away side did manage to test Gianluigi Donnarumma in the 57th minute as Belotti headed a corner goalwards from about ten yards that was comfortably saved in the end.
Pioli made a second change in the 68th minute as Paqueta came off in place of Giacomo Bonaventura.
Bonaventura got himself straight into the action as Milan continued to try play on the counter, and the midfielder saw his shot from the edge of the box deflected wide from Rebic’s pass.
Torino’s game plan shifted focus to overloading the box and pumping balls in from wide, which Romagnoli and Gabbia dealt with very well for the most part.
Inside the final two minutes Pioli made his final sub as the goalscorer Rebic came off in place of Rafael Leao.
The Diavolo had more than enough chances to double their advantage and virtually kill the game off, the last one coming in the final minute of normal time as Castillejo blazed a half-volley over from 18 yards.