AC Milan made it nine wins out of ten to begin the Serie A season but they were made to work very hard for the three points as they beat Torino 1-0.
If being generous it might be accurate to describe Milan’s performance as efficient, with the only real chance they generated resulting in the opening goal inside the first 15 minutes with Olivier Giroud in the right place at the right time to stab home a flicked on corner.
The early goal might have in theory opened the game up somewhat what Ivan Juric’s side inclined to attack more but the spaces in behind and on the counter never opened up, with the Granata being the ones generating the chances.
In the end though it would be three points and a much-needed lean sheet for the Rossoneri as they moved three points clear atop the Serie A table, at least until Napoli play Bologna on Wednesday night.
Head coach Stefano Pioli made five changes to his starting line-up compared to the one that beat Bologna as Alessio Romagnoli and Pierre Kalulu came into the back four, Franck Kessie returned to the midfield, Alexis Saelemaekers took back his spot on the right wing and Olivier Giroud got the nod up front.
The opening exchanges were cagey and frantic from both sides with Torino having more of the possession if anything, but Buongiorno went into the book on the five minute mark for holding Saelemaekers back on the break which gave the visitors and early caution to be wary of.
Within ten minutes Milan had their own centre-back booked as Romagnoli was given a yellow card for arriving late into a challenge with Belotti, who slowly got to his feet and was able to continue.
In the 14th minute, Milan took the lead and it came via their first chance of the game. An outswinging corner from Sandro Tonali on the right was met by the head of Rade Krunic at the near post and his flick-on found Giroud at the far post, who had the simple job of tapping it into an almost empty net from a yard out to register his fourth goal in his sixth Serie A game.
That certainly settled any early apprehension that might have been developing after the uneventful stat, and had Saelemaekers picked out a better pass towards Giroud following a Leao-led break midway through the first half it could have been better, but the Belgian underhit his ball towards the penalty spot.
Leao was the latest to let fly and he drew a save from Milinkovic-Savic in the Torino goal with a shot from 25 yards out central to the goal, though it was an easy save for the Serbian to make as the ball curled into his arms.
The final chance of the first half came via another set piece for the Rossoneri as Tonali whipped in another teasing delivery from near the byline that was glanced on again by Krunic, though this time it sailed narrowly wide of the far post.
Pioli opted to make a double change at the break with Kalulu having struggled to contain Singo down Torino’s right side, and it was Theo Hernandez who came on for his first appearance since the win over Atalanta. Simon Kjaer also came on for Romagnoli, who was on a yellow card as well as the Frenchman.
The first chance of the second half came through what was only the second corner of the game to that point as Milan loanee Pobega headed over the bar from the delivery of former Milan defender Ricardo Rodriguez.
The Granata had another opportunity not long after as Linetty slid Belotti through in behind but facing a narrow angle he scuffed his shot over a sliding Kjaer and Tatarusanu was able to gather gratefully. The Torino duo would be subbed off immediately after in place of Sanabria and Praet.
The game descended into being very scrappy with neither team able to build much momentum as Torino gave little space away for the counter, and a double change came from Pioli with 25 minutes left as Ismael Bennacer and Tiemoue Bakayoko came on for Tonali and Krunic.
Space did begin to open up and inside the final 20 minutes Saelemaekers should have done a lot better when he strode into space 25 yards out, instead skewing a shot way over and wide.
There was a real scare for Milan inside the final fifteen minutes when the substitute Sanabria was found in space on the left side of the box but Tatarusanu just about managed to get his hands to the Paraguay international’s shot across goal and keep it out.
Theo Hernandez was given half a yard to let fly from just outside the box and the Frenchman launched into a shot, but it whistled way over the bar.
Torino grazed the crossbar not long after as Praet had a half-volley deflected onto the top of the woodwork though it appeared that the Belgian had pushed Tomori to get himself the space to shoot.
With four minutes left on the clock a final change came as Giroud made way following a solid shift, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic came on.
The final chance of the game was wasted by the away side as a corner was met at the near post and Brekalo could not gather himself in time to convert from close range. Milan saw out the remaining seconds on the clock to secure another big win and a vital clean sheet after the recent defensive struggled.