GdS: Leao’s smile returns as he takes on game-breaker role in Cagliari win

By Oliver Fisher -

Rafael Leao came on at half-time during AC Milan’s game against Cagliari last night and it would be fair to say he was the decisive man.

La Gazzetta dello Sport recall how Leao remained on the bench for a while listening to San Siro grumble. During the interval he dribbled in the middle of the field, kicking the ball into the air, among the stars, stopping it with his instep and his usual elegance.

Then, Leao came on at half-time and changed the game. He did it with his usual smile, the unpredictability that distinguishes him and the usual surging runs, the ones that made him famous throughout Europe.

Pioli, when questioned about his decision, dribbled away the concept of it being a punishment: “It’s not like that, I had to do something. I don’t change my mind about players because of an exclusion. He and the others reacted as I hoped.”

After hitting the crossbar with a shot after three minutes and giving Christian Pulisic an assist, the Portuguese collected a through ball from Ismael Bennacer 10 minutes from the end and then did what he does best: beat his man, turned on the jets, rounded the keeper and finished.

It was his 14th goal of the season across all competitions and last season he had 16. The current campaign has been more complex than expected: after an excellent start with three goals and four assists in the first seven games, Leao did not score in the league for almost five months.

He was decisive against PSG, Rennes and Slavia Prague in the Champions and Europa League, but domestically he found things more difficult and against Genoa he was jeered off. Against Cagliari he emerged as a hero again, which is symbolic of his career swings so far.

Tags AC Milan Rafael Leao
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