AC Milan ran out 2-0 winners in a very comfortable victory against Bologna in Serie A at San Siro on Saturday evening.
The Rossoneri got one goal in the first half through Rafael Leao who looked back to his superb best during the win. The second came after the break and saw Leao provide an assist for Olivier Giroud.
Milan made a steady start to the game and were certainly the more threatening team out of the two.
They then broke the deadlock with a goal from Portuguese forward Leao. De Ketelaere picked up the ball in midfield after dispossessing an opponent and he drove towards the Bologna defence.
He had options ahead of him and remained calm, picking out Leao in space to his left as he approached the 18-yard box. Leao then took a touch before slotting him at Lukasz Skorupski’s near post. The Bologna goalkeeper perhaps could have done better with the effort.
Milan continued to dominate proceedings and looked very capable of adding a second goal soon after. It was not one-way traffic though as Sinisa Mihajlovic’s side still posed a threat on occasion.
There were many other great chances for the Rossoneri in the first half with Theo Hernandez seeing a low shot go wide, and Pierre Kalulu failing to score after being given the ball in the box by De Ketelaere who had a very good half.
The game continued in much the same vein in the second half with Milan on top whilst needing to stay concentrated at the back.
More comfort was then given to the watching home crowd as Giroud scored his first and Milan’s second goal.
Leao had the ball on the left just outside of the 18-yard box and he played a perfectly weighted chip into Giroud who met it with an acrobatic volley into the bottom corner from close range.
That prompted Pioli to make some changes as he took the impressive De Ketelaere off as well as Ismael Bennacer and Junior Messias. They were replaced by Alexis Saelemaekers, Tommaso Pobega and Yacine Adli.
It was clearly important to Pioli that he spread the minutes around the squad given there will be so many games coming up for the Rossoneri in such quick succession. Many teams have got six games to play before the end of September and Milan are one of them given their Champions League commitments.
There were still a couple of moments throughout that game where the Rossoneri defence did not look as settled as it did for much of the previous campaign but overall it was a very solid performance from the entire team.
Continuing to protect the key players once the lead had been doubled, Pioli chose to remove Theo Hernandez with 15 minutes left to play and he put Fode Ballo-Toure on in his place.
Players such as Adli and Pobega were very keen to impress when they came on as they seek to displace other players from the starting lineup in the near future.
The final change from the coach came with seven minutes left to play as English defender Fikayo Tomori was taken off in place of Matteo Gabbia who the Rossoneri have chosen to keep at the club this summer rather than send out on loan, regardless of if a defender arrives from the transfer market.
Adli came extremely close to scoring towards the end of the game as he met a deep cross at the far post but his shot was saved on the line by Skorupski.
There was a wonderful move involving multiple Milan players in stoppage time that led to Sandro Tonali stabbing a shot at goal but Giroud and a defender were in his way.
The win takes Milan to the top of the Serie A table on seven points, the same amount as the three teams beneath them. Napoli can go top with a win over Fiorentina on Monday night.
Milan will look to build on the win when they face Sassuolo in Emilia Romagna on Tuesday evening.