AC Milan got the job done at San Siro as they scored twice in the second half to seal another important three points against Venezia.
Milan certainly found it tough for the opening 45 minutes as Venezia came to try and frustrate, not necessarily by parking the bus but rather by disrupting build-up play with two very solid banks, and when it was still 0-0 after 67 minutes there was some panic.
However, it would be two substitutes that changed the game. The first goal came through Brahim Diaz as he tapped home from a pinpoint Theo Hernandez cross not long after the Frenchman had come on the field.
Then, Theo got a goal himself with a precise strike into the bottom right corner of the goal after Alexis Saelemaekers’ found him on the break, wrapping up three points and ensuring that the Diavolo move joint-top again with their city rivals.
Head coach Stefano Pioli was forced to do without seven first team players as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Olivier Giroud, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Rade Krunic, Simon Kjaer, Davide Calabria and Junior Messias all missed out through injury.
Four changes were made from the draw over Juventus as Pierre Kalulu, Matteo Gabbia and Fode Ballo-Toure made their first starts of the season, while Ismael Bennacer came back into the midfield and Alessandro Florenzi got the nod on the right wing.
The opening minutes were a tight affair as it became obvious very quickly that the Rossoneri would have to break down two banks of four that were sat deep and looking to contain the quick movement.
Maignan was forced into action first as a cross from Molinaro on the left side started drifting towards the far top corner but the Frenchman did excellently to clutch the ball and stop himself falling over the line.
The early theme of the game for Milan was winning the ball back near the half way line thanks to a well executed press from the midfield before working the ball to the forwards, who produced some neat link-up play before ultimately misplacing the final ball.
Milan pushed and probed for the opener and weren’t too far off in the 19th minute through what would have been bizarre circumstances. Rebic darted for the byline and stood up a cross that drifted over the head of Maenpaa but bounced just past the far post and was cleared.
Rebic had a huge chance to score for the third game in a row through a corner kick that drifted all the way over to the far post where the Croatian was unmarked but headed over the target, perhaps not expecting the ball to reach him.
The Rossoneri had their closest effort of the game just after the half hour mark when a lovely one-two between Rebic and Kalulu ended with the latter sidefooting an effort low towards the far corner that fizzed wide with Maenpaa beaten.
The alarm bells were ringing again for the visiting side when Leao managed to jink his way around a pair of defenders and slide a very appetising ball across the edge of the six-yard box that was desperately cleared.
Moments later Florenzi wasn’t far off getting his first goal for the club as a cross from Kalulu was flicked on by the winger at the near post but landed a couple of yards wide of the far stick.
The final chance of the opening 45 minutes went to Venezia as they showed a threat from a corner which was glanced on at the near post and diverted into the path of a surprised looking Peretz who couldn’t bundle it home.
The first opportunity of the second half came inside five minutes as Leao fed Ballo-Toure who laid a pass off to Tonali, though the midfield skewed an attempt wide when he could have done better.
Another big chance came a couple of minutes later when a cross towards the far post was nodded back to the penalty spot by Rebic, but Brahim Diaz became the latest to waste a scoring opportunity by volleying over while in plenty of space.
Just before the hour mark Pioli decided to change things up to try and inject some life into the game. Ballo-Toure, Florenzi and Gabbia were the ones who made way for Theo Hernandez, Alexis Saelemaekers and Fikayo Tomori respectively.
There was a bit of a scare when a cross from Venezia’s left side was almost diverted into his own net by Kalulu as he tried to meet it at the near post but thankfully Maignan was alert and managed to catch the ball. Moments later Tonali had penalty appeals waved away as he took a tumble inside the box.
Midway through the second half, the Rossoneri got the breakthrough that their pressure had deserved overall. It came through a clockwork move too, as a beautiful cross to the far post from Bennacer was hit back across goal first time from Theo and Brahim was on hand to convert from a couple of yards out.
There was a proud moment for Pietro Pellegri 15 minutes from time as he came on in place of Rebic. Maenpaa was called into action again not long later when Theo Hernandez’s speculative low drive from 30 yards was parried away.
Ten minutes from time a final change was made, with Franck Kessie coming off for Brahim in what seemed an obvious switch to a midfield three.
After setting up the opening goal, Theo Hernandez then got his name on the scoresheet thanks to a move that was made by Saelemaekers. The Belgian made a jinking run through the middle of the field and played a beautifully weighted pass through to the left-back, who steadied himself and fired in.
The final attempt of the game saw Saelemaekers almost get a goal himself, drifting into a central area and letting fly from 25 yards, drawing a fantastic save.