AC Milan 2-0 Atalanta: Rossoneri on the brink of the Scudetto as Leao and Theo score

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan took a huge leap towards winning the title as they scored twice in the second half to secure a first home league victory against Atalanta in eight years.

In truth Milan looked nervous and sloppy in the first 45 minutes as Atalanta perhaps edged proceedings and Stefano Pioli’s men struggled to put their stamp on the game, misplacing passes and generally looking wasteful.

However, the game changed in the second half with the introduction of a couple of substitutes and Rafael Leao got the opening goal of the match with a fantastic touch and finish from Junior Messias’ through ball.

Theo Hernandez doubled the advantage with 15 minutes left after a lung-busting solo run from the edge of his own 18-yard box into the Atalanta area, slotting past Musso in the Nerazzurri goal with confidence.

The result means that Inter now have to win against Cagliari in the evening kick-off to take the title race to the final round of action, while Milan would just need a point away against Sassuolo to win it regardless.

Head coach Stefano Pioli opted to field an unchanged starting XI for the game against La Dea, with Ismael Bennacer remaining on the bench to begin as Rade Krunic got the nod as the playmaker and Franck Kessie partnered Sandro Tonali in the double pivot.

There was an early half-chance for Milan as Alexis Saelemaekers did brilliantly to win the ball back after Theo Hernandez was dispossessed around 25 yards out, bundling into the box but being crowded out before he could shoot from near the penalty spot.

Atalanta then threatened themselves in the 10th minute when a ball was slipped through to Zappacosta down the left side but he cut back instead of squaring first time which seemed to kill the opportunity.

It became apparently from the early exchanges that Atalanta were looking to sit compact and deep in their 3-4-2-1 and even when Milan broke the line the away side stood firm, as seen in the 17th minute when Theo’s surging run down the middle was stopped by a great intervention from Palomino on the edge of the area.

Musso was called into action for the first time four minutes later as Rafael Leao shaped up an effort from the left edge of the box that was curling in but didn’t have the power behind it to cause any trouble.

As the first half when on it was the side from Bergamo that asked more problems with Milan struggling to settle into the game. Mike Maignan was on hand to make a smart diving save to deny a fierce curling shot from Muriel that he then gathered.

Shots were hard to come by for the Rossoneri, though Musso was grateful to easily grasp an effort from Saelemaekers that went through a crowd and took a slight deflection that could have sent the ball anywhere.

Leao should have done better just over three minutes from the interval as Theo fed Saelemaekers who laid it off the the Portuguese winger, yet he sent his shot high and wide rather than trying to curl one.

Giroud went into the book for dissent less than 60 seconds later after he dramatically went to ground inside the box after contact from De Roon but the replay showed it would have been a harsh call.

The first effort of the first half came from Zappacosta when he let fly with his right foot and the ball took a wicked spin off Calabria and thankfully span onto the roof of the net with Maignan sprawling.

A section of the San Siro crowd thought that Theo Hernandez had given Milan the lead with a free-kick from 25 yards out the rattled the next, but it was the outside netting as his attempt didn’t quite curl back enough with Musso stood still.

It didn’t take long for Pioli to turn to substitutions as with less than ten minutes gone in the second half it was Junior Messias and Ante Rebic who were called upon to replace Saelemaekers and Giroud.

The change almost couldn’t have worked any better as Messias got on the ball inside his own half and knocked a ball over the top for Leao to chase, and he brought it under control brilliantly with a headed touch, finishing between the legs of Musso having outpaced the defender.

Atalanta were presented with a chance to hit back fairly quickly when substitute Duvan Zapata found a yard of space to spin and shoot inside the box though he sent it sailing into the stand. Shortly after, Tonali made way for Ismael Bennacer.

Zapata again had a huge opportunity to draw his side level when a corner was whipped perfectly onto his head but the Colombian striker directed it wide of the far post with 19 minutes left on the clock.

With 15 minutes left on the clock, Milan got the all-important second goal to give them some breathing room, and it was fitting that it was a breathtaking run from Theo Hernandez. The Frenchman picked the ball up on the corner of his own box and ran it almost the full length of the pitch, beating several Atalanta players before beating Musso with a low angled shot.

After Messias had cut inside and shot into the arms of Musso when he maybe could have tested the Argentine more, Zapata twice squandered chances to get Atalanta back in it, seeing a shot blocked heroically by Maignan from around 8 yards and then glancing a header from a corner wide.

The remainder of the game was well managed by Milan who knew they had done enough to ensure that the Scudetto is a maximum of one point away.

Tags AC Milan Milan Atalanta


  1. These boys have played their hearts out. They’ve dragged themselves back countless times from bad performances and yet they overcame all of them. Kudos to Mister and his team… often I was highly critical but now I will say no more except praise these young warriors. One more test. One more push and you will be remembered by us Milanista till we die. Forza Pioli, Forza Fans, Forza Staff & Forza Milan❤️🔴⚫️🔴⚫️

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