AC Milan were able to build on their recent wins against Cagliari and SPAL by beating Udinese 3-2 in a thriller at San Siro on Sunday.
The game did not start as Milan would have wanted it to as an early error by Gianluigi Donnarumma allowed Larsen to give the away side the lead, but Ante Rebic provided a quick response after half-time to level.
Theo Hernandez scored an incredible volley to continue his amazing scoring run, but Kevin Lasagna appeared to have nicked a late point for the Bianconeri.
However, Rebic was the hero once again as he rolled in a 93rd minute winner to send 60,000 fans home happy and move Milan within two points of the Europa League sport.
Here are five things we learned…
1. A long time coming
When Milan secured the services of Ante Rebic in the summer, they were hoping that the Croatian would turn out to be a crucial part of the team.
However, unfortunately for him, he did not get much playing time under Marco Giampaolo and the same followed when Stefano Pioli was appointed.
With Hakan Calhanoglu having a slight injury and Giacomo Bonaventura not being efficient enough on the left, Rebic was given a half to show what he can do.
And what an afternoon he had. The Eintracht loanee equalised the result right after coming on the field and continued to grow into the game taking players and using his speed to create chances.
Another point to mention is that we saw good link-up play between him and Rafael Leao which seemed effective as there was chemistry between the two, and while Rebic’s end product wasn’t always there, this should be a major confidence boost for him.
2. Running out of words
Theo Hernandez seems to get a mention every single week, but he’s earned every single one of them.
The Frenchman started off slow against Udinese before exploding in the second half with an incredible volley which is an early candidate goal of the season.
BOOOOMMMMM 💣💣💣💣 pic.twitter.com/hargazgkh9
— IBRIHIMIVIC (@ronelf_) January 20, 2020
He was Simply outstanding, and we need to give praise to Maldini and Boban who hit the jackpot with this particular deal and we can only hope he stays at Milan for a very long period of time.
Who knows, he could even be closing in on a France call-up ahead of this year’s European Championships.
3. The rise continues
It was yet another amazing display from Gianluigi Donnarumma too. Yes, he made a mistake on the first goal, but the amount of amazing saves he made some of which from really close range were just brilliant.
In his interview, the new Milan signing – Asmir Begovic did say Donnarumma is one of the best in the world and with reason to it, as the 20-year-old has bailed the Rossoneri out of tough situations for almost four years now.
The Italian has a lot of room to improve and if he keeps going like this we cannot see him not being the world’s best at some point in his career. Milan are forming a quality core of young players that may bring them back where they belong.
With the game not going into the way Milan wanted, Pioli showed proactivity to take off the under-performing Bonaventura for Ante Rebic.
The Croatian did not take long to prove his coach right as he scored right off the bench and eventually scored the winner.
— sportsbloomng (@sportsbloomng) January 19, 2020
Therefore we have to give credit to Pioli for once on the changes he made and the way his side played in general, as once again a lot of chances were created, including one which Zlatan Ibrahimovic looked certain to bury and make it 3-1.
Milan looked entertaining, dynamic and – perhaps most importantly – committed to the cause. That’s what will continue to bring in the big crowds.
5. Right side still the bad side
While it was an overall solid game, it is fair to say that Milan’s right side had a lot of troubles and especially with Kevin Lasagna.
Simon Kjaer was tested more and did not look as good compared to the game against SPAL, something which should perhaps send a signal to the management that they have not solved the centre-back issue for good.
On the other hand, Andrea Conti did contribute well when moving forward, but his defensive work did fail him a couple of times as Donnarumma was forced into numerous saves.
With Castillejo and Rebic feeling like new signings, it may be wise Maldini and Boban to focus more on the right side of the defence between now and the end of the transfer window, or even a midfielder to put alongside Ismael Bennacer who could better protect the defence.