Atalanta 1-1 AC Milan: Bennacer’s equaliser earns the Rossoneri a point in Bergamo

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan came from behind but were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw at the Gewiss Stadium against Atalanta on Sunday night.

The opening goal came against the run of play and Gian Piero Gasperini’s side were the ones who got it as Ruslan Malinovskyi was not closed down and his shot from just outside the box deflected off Pierre Kalulu leaving Mike Maignan stranded.

Milan dictated the possession and the tempo of the game throughout but struggled for that bit of end product, however it came midway through the second half when Ismael Bennacer fired in an equaliser off the post.

There were no real concrete chances for either side to snatch it late on meaning both had to settle for a draw that, in truth, they might well take in a feisty and intense early season meeting.

Head coach Stefano Pioli opted to make just one change to the starting line-up that won against Udinese last Saturday as Sandro Tonali recovered from injury to take the spot of the now-injured Rade Krunic.

The Rossoneri scored in the first minute of the same fixture last season through Davide Calabria, and when Rafael Leao burst away down the left flank 20 seconds in there was the possibility for another lightning start, though the winger dragged his shot into the side netting with Junior Messias shouting for a cut-back.

A couple of minutes later he received a feed from Ante Rebic, spinning and shooting but firing into Musso’s hands.

Atalanta then got a bit more a of a foothold after starting under pressure, with Maehle and Malinovskyi both finding space to shoot on the right side of Milan’s box but both missing the target as they aimed to beat Mike Maignan at his near post.

The tackles then began to ramp up in aggression as Toloi went into the book for taking down Leao off the ball, and Theo Hernandez was clattered while Milan were building an attack which caused some worry on the bench, but he was ok to continue.

Tonali would have liked to have the chance back that he scuffed in the 20th minute when he was found on the edge of the box after a nice cut-back from Bennacer who was released by Calabria down the right.

Midway through the first half there was a big opportunity for Milan to take a lead their early pressure might well have deserved. Runners from midfield caused chaos in the Atalanta box and Theo whipped in a teasing ball that reached Messias at the far post, yet he hooked a half-volley wide.

Just before the half hour mark, Milan were made to pay for the wastefulness as Malinovskyi gave Atalanta a lead. The ball fell nicely to him around 20 yards out and he was not closed down, firing a shot that deflected off Kalulu and virtually down the middle of the goal.

Milan instantly resumed control of the game, having plenty of the ball but struggling to break through quite a compact home defence out of possession, with Kalulu having the best chance to level before the interval as he glanced a header from a corner wide.

The Rossoneri began the second half on the front foot and Hateboer might have been lucky to escape with just a yellow card as he flew through Leao with his studs showing just before the Portuguese winger got to the byline.

Kalulu had a chance to level with a header from a set piece just before the break and the Frenchman really should have done better four minutes after the interval as he rose highest to meet a free-kick but sent it over the bar from six yards out.

Atalanta responded with a headed chance of their own as Pasalic drilled in a cross on the half-volley that Hateboer met at the far post yet couldn’t quite get above.

Up at the other end it was Milan’s turn to come close again; this time Leao jinked inside onto his right foot from the left flank and whipped an effort narrowly wide of the far post with Musso rooted to his spot.

Maignan had to be alert to keep out a powerful header from Pasalic after a teasing cross found the Croatian. From the corner that resulted, he then flicked a header wide of the near post.

A double change came from Pioli in the 58th minute as Charles De Ketelaere and Olivier Giroud came on in place of Brahim Diaz and Rebic.

De Ketelaere should have had an assist almost instantly when he found Tonali’s run in behind with a perfectly weighted pass, yet the Italian midfielder only succeeded in dinking an effort that Musso scrambled and collected when he should have done better.

Milan began to get some joy with crosses after the substitutions. Firstly Musso saved from a Giroud header and then Messias tried to divert a header of his own inside the far post but didn’t quite get enough on it.

In the 66th minute a third and fourth change came for Milan as Alexis Saelemaekers and Divock Origi came on for Messias and Leao.

Milan got themselves level in what was quite a strange sequence of play. Ismael Bennacer let fly from 25 yards out and Musso parried it down low to his left with the ball looking like it would go out for a corner. However, Saelemaekers chased it down and fed the ball back to the Algeria international who took a touch inside onto his left foot and smacked one in off the inside of the post from about 15 yards.

Origi was very close to making himself the hero just inside the last 10 minutes as he picked up possession inside the box and was very close to getting a shot away that surely would have gone in but for a vital tackle from Djimsiti.

A final substitution was made with six minutes left on the clock as Alessandro Florenzi came on for Calabria, with Theo Hernandez taking the captain’s armband.

Neither side managed to create anything concrete in the dying embers of the game, with the home side in particular happy to settle for a point.

Tags AC Milan Atalanta-Milan


  1. Leao began to be burdened with the title of “ballon d’or finalist” and seemed to want to prove himself, until he forgot that he had 10 friends on the field

  2. Where were Milan’s wingers in the 1st half? “7 Million Dollar Man” nor Messias nowhere to be seen. And Diaz returned to his usual level.

    FFS, Pioli needs to shake things up. CDK must be in the starting 11 next week. Adli needs to play. And M&M should go and sign a RW that is actually useful.

    1. Although credit must be given to Saele for the assist. Unfortunately we won’t be seeing that happening again anytime soon if he continues to be himself.

      1. He put another excellent cross in right at the end and Atalanta’s attacking threat on their left got blunted after he came on, for the rest of the game they were only going down the centre and right – IMO he was a decent tactical addition

  3. How often can we see Atalanta playing the bus-parking strategy? Well, Gasperini seems to learn a lesson. Pioli must start to think how to live on without Kessie. We can still that something’s missing. And would love to see Adli play. Seems like a kind of guy who can break a deadlock situation.

    1. Kessie wouldn’t have made the difference here as Atalanta rarely attacked or even kept the ball. Kessie is next to useless when trying to break the “parked bus” defense.

  4. I can’t wait for the naysayers in the comments section. Oh it’s gonna be juicy😂😂😂. I’m gonna grab the popcorn 🍿. Gonna see the anti-Leao crowd and the “we need a right winger crowd”(I’m a card carrying member fyi) and then the “Giroud is old/Giroud is not Ibra/Origi is garbage” crowd and finally the “why we paid so much for CDK/CDK is so slow” crowd. Take your pick.

    I’m a card carrying member of the “it’s only the first two games of the season crowd, let’s wait a bit”. Gonna play that card today😂

  5. Pioli is to blame. Taking Leao out is one thing. But we did not have a left winger after. I dont understand what Origi did actually and The uttalande just made CDK look lost. How come he bring salae to be on The eight but Origi not actually staying on The left. We lost momentum because of it.

    1. “Taking Leao out is one thing. ”

      The only mistake Pioli did regarding him was benching him too late. Should have done it already at halftime.

  6. Leao was just strolling around the pitch and was just forcing everything, we cukd have a had a 2 big chances early on if he had atleast pass the ball…..Milan would have won if rebic was taken to the left, giroud at the center and Leao out.


    1. If pioli knew that Atalanta plays so
      defensively, he wouldn’t have played Rebic
      (as striker). Because Rebic is good for
      playing against teams that play offensively.
      Pioli thought that Atalanta would play
      offensively. Like us!
      maby this can be good for next match.:
      rebic cdk salemakers

  7. Predictable Milan. Gasperini new exactly how to tackle Pioli for 60 minutes.. Makes sense though because it was the exact same Milan with past season.
    Against no real striker…Rebic kept on wondering out of the area leaving the attack without a player.
    No RW……Messias nowhere to be found.
    No Kessie replacement : Malinovskyi shot 2 shots unmarked before finding target with the third….Had a couple in the 2nd half.
    And again same old Diaz….

  8. I definitely think Olivier Giroud should have started this match ,I felt that when he came in the momentum changed .I also believe that had he have started we would have won the game ,rebic was poor .I don’t believe he is a natural centre forward ,yes he can play on the flanks ,and he has great energy.
    That said we must move forward ..We have a good team ,and the best will come .I hope salamakers starts the next game along with Olivier Giroud. ( technically this man is the best .I am extremely confident we will win the next game ,and that we can win the scuddeto again this season .

    1. Rebic was poor due to the fact that no one could feed him in the box. He was so isolated in attack he had to come backwards (even all the way down to the halfway line) and that is definitely not his strength.

      Giroud would have done that part better but would still have lacked any service in the box. The whole trio behind Rebic was M.I.A.

  9. We should have sold Leao for 60 million and bought Kvaratskhelia for 35. I said that to Maldini but he believed that Leao is better. Well two years ago he was very bad, last year was excellent and so far this year has been too bad, while the Georgian boy shines in Napoli.

  10. Leo & Theo need to start playing with the team, so disappointing to watch is like they are playing for scouts.

    Tomori ,Tonali & Kalulu breaking momentum and slow built-up and spreading the ball quicker. Tonali failed to link plays from the back to forward. We need a ball playing & goal scoring CB Ndicka

    Origi didn’t get the message that he is coming in for LW , The central area was flooded with him, Giroud and CDK, coach didn’t get his plans right.

    M&M We please sign quality man making , strong ball Winner and quick responsive CDM, who can run and pass , physical also.( Ander Herrera ,Abdoulaye Doucoure, Ruben Loftus cheek (loan)Dani Cabellos loan or Draxler loan )

    RW please, Massias & Salad just gabbages, so disappointing ( loan Zayeech or Asensio loan, even Delfour can do better )

    Give Adli or CDK starting berth on next match, the little Mergit is such a disgrace for jersey no 10 history , he can’t pass,can’t hold the ball longer with falling ,poor ball control.

    Great performance from Bennecer, give him improved contract.

  11. Bennacer is a beast. He should’ve had an assist in 20th minute but Tonali was terrible with his shot. Bennacer should’ve had 2 more assists with his PERFECT crosses to Kalulu who should’ve scored twice. Bennacer won tackle after tackle and won back possession for us so many times.

    MESSIAS IS TERRIBLE. SAELE IS TERRIBLE. please how can anyone give any credit for that “assist”. That goal was 100% Isma.

    Please start Rebic at RW PIOLI!!! Then Giroud can start up top.

    Tonali was to blame on Malinovsky goal. It was his man to mark and Sandro was way too deep.

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