GdS: ‘Milan2 takes you to the top’ – Pioli leaves the island with more than three points

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan produced a dominant performance against Cagliari on Wednesday night, showing that they do not panic under pressure and can come from behind to win.

La Gazzetta dello Sport (seen below) writes this morning writes how the analysis when Cagliari took the lead in the 29th minute of the first half threatened be a negative one, and the mutterings of the skeptics could be sensed in the air.

There are those who might have argued that in such a delicate moment, with the bruises of the derby still visible, that starting without both Olivier Giroud and Rafael Leao in such a demanding away game was not wise.

There are also those who could have said that with the irreplaceable Rade Krunic absent, it might not have been the right time to give such an important role to Yacine Adli, who has no experience in that position and hasn’t played a minute in the season so far.

However, if Stefano Pioli wants to wage war on Inter for the Scudetto, he must make use of every player in his squad and that means he must also get to know and develop the latest arrivals.

The starters are not enough. Pioli took a risk and was right to do so. He found new goals from Noah Okafor and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, he saw Adli’s good performance, he rediscovered Christian Pulisic’s drive, he saw Yunus Musah and Samuel Chukwueze grow.

Cagliari played a good, heartfelt match, but slipped to last place. Claudio Ranieri’s experience and charisma are the best antidote to dejection, but even he can do little if the team continues to get hurt in defence and fails to score more than once.

In the first half Adli did almost everything, for better or for worse. The most awaited player immediately took the reins into his own hands and the Frenchman was able to distribute the ball, aided by Cagliari who did not press.

Adli had not played an official minute in 2023-24 to that point, but his team-mates know his quality, so they give the ball to him and they look for him.

Chukwueze in particular started eagerly on the right and Tijjani Reijnders moved across the attacking midfield and attacked the area on the left.

Adli might dribble with the ball and try more ambitious passes, but Krunic would never have let himself be dominated by Luvumbo as the Franco-Algerian was. From the opening whistle, Luvumbo not stop hammering the Rossoneri’s right flank.

For their goal he won the ball back from Adli who was soft in truth, getting a pass from Nandez and thundering a shot under the crossbar at Sportiello’s near post.

Adli started weaving again and Ranieri’s two trenches lower and become even tighter. It is not easy to attack Cagliari’s ‘fort’, and it took some help from Radunovic to equalise.

Adli, again, extends to the left for Pulisic who dribbles past the naive Zappa and hits a low shot. The Serbian goalkeeper lies down, but the ball escapes from his gloves and this time Okafor is there to capitalise.

In the 46th minute the Diavolo made it 2-1. Adli is again involved as he played a corner short to Reijnders who dribbled the area and hit a low cross-shot hard towards the goal, with Tomori on hand to turn it in from close range.

Pioli jumped like a child with his arms raised, as if it were a winning goal in a final. When a coach sees something that he worked on in training pay off, it provokes a bit of extra joy.

At the start of the second half, Ranieri dismantled the trenches and set up his 4-4-2 with the young Oristanio replacing Wieteska. But, paradoxically, Cagliari struggled to attack more than before.

Pioli strengthened the midfield by inserting the size of Musah and Pobega and a minute Milan closed the curtain with the third goal. Pulisic, who after a difficult start has played increasingly well, rolls the ball to the feet of Loftus-Cheek who hits the corner splendidly.

Milan are back at the top level with Inter but this is not the real treasure that Pioli takes away from the island: it is the belief that he has more Milan than before.

Tags AC Milan Cagliari-Milan
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