After four consecutive wins in the league, AC Milan were hoping to make it five against Bologna and continue to put pressure on Juventus as well as Inter. However, the game finished in a disappointing 2-2 draw for the Rossoneri.
The game seemed to be pretty much in Milan’s control in the first half as they had a couple of chances and dominated possession. However, after a moment of uncertainty at the back, Bologna struck first through Joshua Zirkzee in the 29th minute.
Milan didn’t need a lot of time to react as they were awarded a penalty in the 42nd minute, which unfortunately Olivier Giroud missed. The Rossoneri kept plugging on, though, and got the equaliser before the break thanks to Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
After the break, in the 75th minute, Milan were awarded another penalty after a great solo run by Rafael Leao. Once again, however, it wasn’t meant to be from the spot as Theo Hernandez also failed to score. The frustration peaked, understandably so, but Loftus-Cheek came up big again.
The Englishman scored with a great header in the 83rd minute and it looked as though he would be the hero. However, with a third penalty of the game being awarded, Bologna found the equaliser in the 92nd minute through Riccardo Orsolini.
And whilst the frustration was building up, Loftus-Cheek was once again the main man for his team, finding the back of the net in the 83rd minute through a lovely header which put Milan in front just 10 minutes before the final whistle. Here are five things we learned:
1. Bologna duo passing the test
Let’s start with the opposition. Bologna played a really good game despite conceding two penalties, managing to stay in the game and striking at the perfect moments.
For this performance, we have to give credit to Thiago Motta, who has done a fantastic job this season. But also Zirkzee, who scored the opener and was a constant threat for Milan during the 90 minutes.
And that’s potentially a good thing for Milan – despite the poor result – because the duo has been linked with the Rossoneri in recent weeks. If this was the official audition, then both passed with flying colours.
Zirkzee looks like a striker that Milan hasn’t had for quite a while, capable of beating his man and creating chances out of nothing. But that’s not all because we saw some great vision and passes too, just as his hold-up play was solid.
The only question mark is whether he can truly have an immediate impact or not, with Milan needing a top-class striker for next season.
2. Man of the moment
Ruben Loftus-Cheek is enjoying the start of the year in some fashion with 4 goals scored already, winning the MOTM award in our player ratings.
The Englishman has improved in the last couple of games and he’s just managed to be efficient in the final third. This is something that he had been struggling with earlier in the season, not finding himself in the right positions.
Against Bologna, we saw a great box-to-box performance from the midfielder who had a slightly more advanced role and used his physicality and positioning well on both goals.
Unfortunately for him, the brace was not enough because of poor performances at the back, but he can only be happy with his display and continue with the good work.
3. French duo disappoint
We have become used to praising Hernandez and Giroud lately as both have been pivotal for the recent positive performances.
This time around, however, Giroud missed the penalty that was going to bring his team level and was a shadow on the pitch throughout the game. There was certainly a clear contrast to Zirkzee who, in addition to the goal, was always on the ball and caused trouble.
Hernandez, meanwhile, wasn’t as efficient as in recent weeks when going forward. This would have been fine if he had done his defensive duties well. But he failed to track back on the first goal and was rinsed by Orsolini on the second one which led to the penalty.
And to top off the horrible defensive performance, he missed the second penalty that was awarded to Milan in an even more delicate situation compared to the first ones. Disappointing from the left-back, but it was just one of those days.
4. The good and the bad
It was another frustrating night for Rafael Leao as he failed to get on the scoresheet once again. But the more worrying part was his overall performance, as he just wasn’t efficient when he got into the final third.
He did win the penalty in the second half after a trademark run, but up until that moment, he didn’t make an impact. Bologna were keeping a very close eye on him, of course, but the Portuguese winger had a couple of chances where he could have done more.
Unfortunately for him, this is not something new as he has struggled throughout the whole season, really. The future will be very interesting, not to mention the next few weeks, as there is a lot of raw talent that needs digging out.
5. The bench disappoints this time around
Milan have benefitted from some quality subs in recent weeks, with the previous round coming to mind. Okafor and Jovic both came off the bench then to help the Rossoneri beat Udinese in the dramatic 3-2 affair.
Therefore, it wasn’t unreasonable to expect some impact off the bench against Bologna too, but the only positive was Florenzi, who got the assist on the second goal. Musah too, as he did a lot of dirty work but failed to help in the attack.
Okafor and Jovic were pretty much invisible, which was far from ideal, but the biggest flop was Terracciano. He didn’t look confident to begin with and gifted Bologna the draw with that silly tug of the shirt. A really poor performance for him and an overall poor one for Milan’s bench.