AC Milan picked up a crucial win in their quest to obtain European football next season against a Roma side who may have seen their last hopes for a place in Champions league extinguished.
Goals from Ante Rebic and Hakan Çalhanoglu helped Milan defeat their rivals 2-0. It was a professional and enduring performance from the Rossoneri against a quality side who ran out of legs towards the end. Here are a few key points and tactical notes from the game…
Both teams started in a 4-2-3-1 formation and transitioned into a 3-2-4-1 in attack and 4-4-1-1 in defence.
Milan defended deeper than they did against Lecce due to the threat of Roma’s technical attackers and pace, but they were still keeping a rather high line.
Roma were using a 4-4-2 in defence and chose to cut out passing lanes often, forcing Theo to drop deeper to collect the ball or Kjaer to drop long balls over the first 2 lines of press
The first chance of the match fell for Dzeko who headed the ball wide. A ricochet helped the ball find Kluivert who was unmarked as Conti had strayed forward to press Pellegrini.
Kluivert ran towards the box and was being marked by Kjaer when Spinnazola made an overlapping run and Kjaer was drawn out by the possibility of Kluivert passing to Spinnazola. Kluivert saw the space open up and put a ball in for Dzeko who headed it wide.
Milan’s best chance of the half came via a missed header from Calhanoglu. Roma tried to restrict Milan towards the right wing, but after some good work by Rebic he found Bonaventura in space who had Hakan behind him. Jack spun and found Theo who was in acres of space towards the centre.
Meanwhile Hakan made a run into the box, and when Theo’s cross came in Mancini failed to mark the Turkey international as he was distracted by Rebic’s movement. Hakan was free, but missed the target.
A drab first half as both team cancelled out each other quite well. Chances were kept to minimum and it was about who could score first and endure longer.
With Roma becoming more tired playing only their second game after the pandemic break, their fitness was called into question. Pioli took this opportunity to take out an ineffective Bonaventura and a cautioned Samu Castillejo for Alexis Saelemaekers and Lucas Paqueta.
The anticipation and work rate Rebic showed for the first goal was excellent as he intercepted a rather tired pass from Zappacosta and held off a defender before making a horizontal pass for Paqueta to advance and then put in a cross. The second goal was also good combination play by Hakan to draw the defender and then release Theo down the wing.
Roma did try to mount a comeback with Kalinic coming and trying to play the Dzeko role but it was too late and Roma didn’t have the legs in them. Overall it was a good match and a good win for Milan, who play SPAL on Wednesday.