Player Ratings: Liverpool 3-2 AC Milan – Incredible Maignan, Kessie’s mind elsewhere

By Nikita Fesyukov -

AC Milan lost 2-3 at Anfield Road in their Champions League debut in what was a breathtaking match full of fine goals and turnarounds. Some players did not play up to par, while others surprised us pleasantly in the tough fixture.

Starting XI

Maignan (7.5): Very tough match for the French goalkeeper, but he did incredibly. He had to be fully concentrated for the entire 90 minutes and was found ready on most occasions. Hard to blame him for the goals, but he made a fantastic penalty save to keep Milan in the game in the first half.

Calabria (6): Had much more defensive duties than he is used to and while in the second half he seemed somewhat lost, he raised the level in the second half and guarded his side with honour. His offensive contribution was very limited given the outcome of the game.

Tomori (7): One of the few players who managed to adapt to the intensity of the game in the first half. Made some fantastic tackles and recoveries. His own goal was a matter of luck and he cannot be blamed for that.

Kjaer (6.5): A fine performance from the Danish international as well. Is a guarantee at the back and provided much-needed security to a very inexperienced group of players.

Theo Hernandez (5.5)Probably the worst of the defensive department, but not entirely bad. It’s just that facing Salah and Alexander-Arnold was a really tough nut to crack and both caused Theo a lot of trouble. Also considering this, his contribution to the attack was limited, as was Calabria’s case.

Bennacer (5.5): Looked really lost at the start of the game and eventually got into the game at least a little bit, even though he made a lot of mistakes. It will probably take some time to see him back in top form.

Kessie (5): Really looked like his mind was elsewhere with all the contract renewal rumours circulating. Looked sloppy, reckless and his passing was completely off.

Saelemaekers (6): Tough match for him, but it was actually a decent performance from the Belgian, who made some nice moves and played an important part in the combination leading to Rebic’s goal.

Brahim Diaz (6.5): It was difficult for him to find space, but he really tried a lot and was determined to show off at Anfield and managed to score a goal. Had some nice moments, but also made many mistakes, as he needs to improve on his passing under pressure.

Rafael Leao (5.5): Not enough today from Leao. While he had some moments, including his assist to Rebic, the general impression was that he was ineffective and did not manage to take advantage of Alexander-Arnold’s attacking tendencies to create space for himself.

Ante Rebic (6.5): Tough, very tough for the Croatian. But he got the most from the little available, scoring a fantastic goal to equalize the match.


Alessandro Florenzi (5.5): Not much contribution from the Roma loanee. Probably could have done better on Henderson’s winning goal.

Olivier Giroud (5.5): Came on at a difficult moment of the match when Liverpool were in complete control. Clearly not fully fit yet and thus, his contribution was very limited.

Sandro Tonali (6): He is building on how he started off the season. Entered with a lot of energy and will to prove himself. Definitely the most in-form midfielder at the moment.

Daniel Maldini (N/A)

Tags AC Milan Champions League Liverpool


  1. Instead of finding fault with individual players, why not admit that someone instilled fear in the players and did not let them go forward for most of the game?

    1. If Kessie doesn’t want to play he shouldn’t. He reminded me of Leao last season. Too bad Tonali wasn’t in there sooner, shame he felt bad a few days before the game.

    2. And if they went forward, Liverpool would score 7 goals. Most of these players also played 1st match in CL, it is natural they aren’t running forward against one of the best teams in Europe.

    3. did you watch the game or only highlights on youtube? Liverpool dominated the midel. Pressing agressive, forcing mistakes. The ball posession was 20-70. They play the same football as milan but have better players. Good game, considering non players aside from the old one has any experience. Probally the hardest game in the game to play in anfield.

  2. With Liverpool and other attacking teams the only way to win is to take control over the center. Just like we did with Lazio, and Juventus and Atalanta last season. We even could win, because Liverpool’s defense is a joke without Van Dijk.

    Tonali could do this job better than Kessie. At least Sandro is still motivated to play for ACM. Now compare how Kessie played against MU last year and tonight. He is not with us anymore, totally off. Use him against weak defense-oriented teams only. Not a tank we can rely anymore.

    1. My friend its suicidal to compete toe to toe with the Liverpool midfield. Can you name a club with a better midfield to Liverpool’s in the competition? Including the likes of Chelsea who plays with 6, Bayern plays with 5, inter plays with 5, even man city can’t boldly claim to have a better midfield balance.
      Even with the numbers, none of these teams will win the midfield battle against this Liverpool midfield 3 away from home let alone at Anfield of all places.

  3. Guys relax. This is one of the 2-3 most difficult games we could face – and this came as the first CL game after years and the first CL match for most the players. They won’t face more difficult the entire season.
    Much more experienced teams have collapsed in Anfield against this Liverpool (even Barca, City etc).

  4. The boys did pretty well against a terrific Liverpool side boasting of some of the best attackers in the game

    The loss doesn’t mean anything at all considering the fact that most of these guys don’t have champions league experience.

    Two to Three more appearances and with the right mentality, we will conquer Europe at least once more

  5. Liverpool could and should have won this 5-0.

    Bennacer and Kessie were awful, and they clearly had words with each other. Diaz was bad for the first 10 minutes until he started dropping deeper to cover for the horrific performance of Kessie and Bennacer. He is one of the few people who actually adjusted throughout the first half and wound up playing a solid game.

    Continue to be very impressed with Maignan.

    Depth is going to be a real problem this year.

    1. LIverpool could have win 5-0?? I don’t know the match you were watching bro…what if kjaer goal wasn’t offside? Will you make that statement?

      This boys over did themselves, no team in their situation could manage this match at Anfield better, even when Liverpool came to Europe after years of absence, they were massacred…..

      I love the fact they lost in a way, they need to have that experience and be aware that giving 200% in champions league is non negotiable

      1. We were watching the same match. Here are some of the statistics:

        Liverpool corners: 15
        Milan corners: 2

        I’m not sure if I ever saw a game with so many corners conceded by a single team.

        Easily could have been 5-0 by Liverpool.

        1. Spain played Bosnia back in 2005. The Spaniards had 25 corners against the Bosnian 1 or 2. The match ended 1-1 after Spain equalized in 97′.

        2. You know what is a probability to score from a corner? Cant find the number but its around 2%.
          They scored 1 from 15, which makes it a huge OVERACHIEVEMENT.

      2. I watched the match where Liverpool had 23 shots to Milan’s 6. I watched the match where Liverpool had almost 70% possession in the first half, which was played almost exclusively in Milan’s half.

        I watched a match that a terrific series of passes followed by dumb luck happened to give Milan a lead going into halftime.

        I watched the match where Milan couldn’t run with Liverpool and the midfield was completely overrun.

        On the plus side, I saw the match where Kessie probably lost himself an egregiously expensive Premier League contract. So moral victory?

        The simple truth is that Milan is about two years away from seriously competing in the Champions League. Let’s fight as hard as possible and get the experience, but the team lacks pace and desperately lacks a right winger to make noise. Hopefully I’m wrong, but I’m looking at realistic expectations.

  6. You guys should chill… This was a debut for almost the entire first eleven so d performance was expected… Apart from d likes of rebic, kjaer (World cup) and maybe tomori this was d first time they played on a big stage and doing that against Liverpool, a major contender for d the UCL title is another added pressure.

  7. Bennacer as a matter of fact has effectively lost his place on the starting XI to Tonali and Serie A. Tonali should have played in his place not him. Bennacer played horribly, conceded a stupid penalty and gave Henderson a perfect assist for Liverpool’s third goal before Pioli realized it was time to take him out. I hope Pioli learned a valuable lesson today because the players that have to play are the ones that are having a good moment in the present and that’s Tonali not Bennacer and Tonali’s stomach problems are no excuse, Tonali could have very well played from the get go tonight.

    1. You talk about Bennacer when you should be talking about Kessié sloppyness in every part of the game, he lost almost every ball when Bennacer was trying really hard even dropping deep to get the ball.. it should have been Bennacer/Tonali not Kessié cos I think Kessié doesn’t feel love for Milan anymore

    2. Ridiculous decision to start Bennacer instead of Tonali, who gained incredible amount of momentum during the first Serie A matches.

      Placing the guy who was leading the team on the bench in change of a player who just recovered from an injury was a big huge mistake by Pioli. Tonali should have been a starter 100%.

  8. All players aside from kessie and bennacer did fight, and thats nice to see. Liverpool is a tough match for milan, they play the same football,but at the moment they play it better.
    The dept issue is showing, when you have florenzi to replace on the right wing its s problem when you want goals.

  9. We should not expect to much from Milan at Anfield. This is a Liverpool team with a High game tempo. They did press and never allow Milan. They guys deserve some thumbs up. Good performance.

  10. Tomori was brilliant, in addition to Mike he is one of the best things that happened to Milan i shit you not. Those two beautiful bastards are the reason Liverpul didn’t score 10 goals.

    Kjaer standard, Teo… well he was up against Salah and Alexander-Arnold so… yeah he stood zero chance and Kessie was utterly useless most of the time so he had no help from him or Leao.
    Calabria… lack of CL experience hit hard our captain he was so distracted and lost most of the match.
    Offense… it was almost nonexistent. Kessie and Bennacer were a trainwreck, Saelemaekers like a squirrel on gallons of coffee, running around and doing almost nothing. Leao god awful, even that assist doesn’t help, he was just horrid.
    Brahim wanted to run with the ball way too long, Rebic just… cut off.

    That being said, almost none of these kids ever saw anything like Anfield, it was full to the brim and it was intimidating. Liverpool is a team that plays CL every single year and they are always one of the candidates to win it. Of course everyone was shitting themselves. Let’s not fool ourselves Milan was god awful, but with almost zero CL experience, with our britches soiled several times, we managed to score, not once, but twice and save a penalty. Yes we lost, but damn, there is hope there, with more games, we will come to our own.

    1. couldn’t agree more with your POV..they should embrace today’s lost and learn from it..but man this game prove Milan has chance to make more, they are effective even less chances created compared to Pool..

      Pioli’s tactic is good too, although many says he is just a mediocre coach..but this prove he has something

      some thought from me, Milan need influencer like Ibra, but young and not injured easily


    2. Leao wasn’t awful, the big mistake was made by the coach. Tonali should have started the game to provide those long passes which would have exposed Arnold. When we got the ball Bennacer always wanted to make a back pass which increased the pressure on us. If Tonali had started the game he would exposed Arnold by the long passes to Leao. The few passes Leao got led to the two goals. The coach needs to put his confidence on Tonali

      1. Understood. The pass is minimal and he faced the best right back in the world in Trent-Arnold.

        I prefer Krunic – Tonali rather than Kessie – Bennacer today LOL

  11. Kessie and Bennacer didnt show up. Kessie obviously taking bad advice from Hakan on how to out yourself in the shop window and make yourself look like an idiot. I thought Leao’s mark was harsh – He made both goals and it was more down to the fact that we had no midfield.

  12. This is the reality of how demanding UCL is and especially how tough our group is (check highlights of the other group match).
    Liverpool was by far the best team tonight; the score line is somewhat quite flattering for ACM.
    There are plenty to be taken away so we learn and grow. We have a good team and tonight we lost against a top team, simple as that.
    We should have read better the game or at least try to adjust to the pressure eg possibly change formation to strengthen our mildfield lines.
    Such a strong test for us this group is.

  13. Saelemakers 6!?!?

    You gotta be kidding me, he was out of position, getting ripped by robertson, couldn’t string a pass together.

    He fights bennacer and kessie for the worst player on the pitch.

  14. The back line was decent including the Keeper, I had no idea what Theo was doing all through the game if almost felt like he didn’t want to play, Salah was busy controlling all ariel balls, I just lost it for him Ballo Toure should have been brought on , Raphael Leao isn’t a serious footballer, I don’t know what Saelemaekers was doing but a poor showing from him, Good work from Rebic, Tomori came firing all guns and we needed it, solid work from Calabria a captain indeed.

    I hope management see why we needed to sign a quality No 10, Briam Diaz didn’t have the running legs and I don’t think he has 38games in him. Dept is gonna be an issue, new season same old problem. I have no words for Kessie and Benercer, Kessie work rate was good but they couldn’t control the ball or pick a decent pass. This Liverpool team are lucky cus our boys played anoymously through the game

  15. I really don’t understand some comments over here……

    Apart from the goal salah scored, what else did he do rather than miss a penalty?
    Where was even Origi through out the match?
    What was Liverpool doing when milan twarted them with clean vertical passes?
    We had only Rebic and leao as strikers but they had salah, Origi, Jota and even had chamberlain and mane on the bench……
    They have played the championship for 5-6 years in our absence…..

    We were disadvantaged in the match:
    Most players have never played this championship, we had no number 9 that was fit, we had no depth for subs, we were playing infront of thousand of Liverpool noise makers….yet we score 2 and almost scored 3, what if kjaer goal wasn’t offside?

    Don’t blame anybody, every milan player did very well, put these Liverpool player in this milan players condition and they might perform worse…even when they returned to champions league for the first time after years of absence, they were massacred…..

    These boys made me proud, that Liverpool were shooting direct at our keeper doesn’t make them able to score 5 goals, milan goals was even more slick and graphed so please cut them some slack.

    These players need us now than ever, it is very stupid for any fan to bash any of the players, we have Juventus next who might try to capitalize on our lost energy and momentum in this match….nothing is decided yet, even this Liverpool is not guaranteed to qualify in this group, football is wierd…we just have to support and believe in our team, Forza Milan.

    1. Leeds United played better against Liverpool with their strongest squad including VVD and Mane from the start. We looked absolutely hopeless out there. This isn’t serie a where we can pass the ball around at the back. We need to get the ball up the pitch rapidly. If Pioli makes these choices again we are going to be embarrassed more than once in this champions league and head home with 0 points.

    2. I dont get, if Tomori or Calabria weren’t intimidated I see no reason why Kessie and Bennacer should be or Theo, they just were awful let’s be sincere about that. The Liverpool team weren’t so dynamic most of our boys just never left the team bus. We need Ibrahimovic to always charge this players to be fearless. After one good season in four seasons Kessie wants to earn all the dollars available in Casa Milan, hope he can see how he failed his very first big test. I’d say sell him and get a serious player

  16. Liverpool has probably the best attack in Europe. But they also have one of the worst defense among top teams. We could win if our mid back showed up what they did before. Bennacer and Kessie used to be our top line last season concreting center, ruining opponent’s attack and building core for our attack. With them in their best shape the game would be totally different. Something same to what we had at the end of the last season against Juventus or Atalanta.
    Tonight we literally played 9 men against 11 plus Anfield fans.

  17. Maignan was awesome! Tomori was decent but Capitano would do more today i believe. Kjaer was good, calabria solid, theo strugled to defend Salah and Trent Arnold

    Kessie and Bennacer, disappointing. Tonali shall be starter against Juve with either Kessie or Bennacer. Salemaker Ok, waiting for Junior Messias. Diaz awesome. Rebic awesome. Leao average by his standard but his speed really an asset

    Look, guys, chills! It is liverpool in a field we are talking about. Milan will learn alot and Get the W against Juve

    Lets trash Them!

  18. Great effort. Liverpool on another level. Shows us we still have a ways to go to compete with them but all in all considering first CL game in 8 years and first time majority of our players played in a CL game we can hold our heads high. Kessie to me was our worst player. Leao and Bennacer not too far behind. What was Bennacer doing on that clearance for the 3rd goal? Headed the ball right to the top of the 18. That’s horrible mistake. Won’t be too hard on the lads overall. Liverpool are just better and playing Liverpool @ Anfiekd most teams will lose. Something to build on. Need to clean up some mistakes which killed us.

  19. Some of you are here criticizing Bennacer and kessie that only made their champions league debut against a team like Liverpool in such atmosphere, this is really funny.

    We can’t archive this at once, it’s a gradual process, sometimes the criticism is too much from we Milan fans. Instead of appreciating their little effort we are criticizing them.

    When Liverpool made their UCL come back many years back like we did today, they faced many embarrassments, one I can remember so well was against Ludogrets with Steven Gerard in the middle of the park as the defensive midfielder and captain, season after season they didn’t do well because they lacked that champions league experience.
    I’m not here to oppose anyone rather I’m here to appreciate everyone that played the match tonight, they did there best in anfield against a team that made a comeback against Barcelona, against a team that won Manchester city and Baryern in that ground.

    1. I agree with you.

      I am not giving excuses, but we have to take into consideration that this is the:
      – 1st CL for the owners – so now they know how we compare to the elite in the big money competition. Because of this I expect that the soft 5mil salary cap will become even softer, since they want to get as far as possible in the CL in order to maximize revenue which would increase the valuation of the club hence a bigger payday for them when they are ready to sell the club…

      – 1st CL for Pioli as manager – so now he knows the level his players should be on for games in the CL, because of this I doubt we will see again players like Ibra play on the weekend when there is a CL game on Tue / Wed. Because it was obvious how much his leadership and courage that rubs on the other players was missing on the pitch in the 1st 25min.

      – 1st CL for more than half the players – They were shellshocked from the whole Anfield atmosphere, and maybe the importance of the occasion which was plainly evident in the 1st 25min, and those 25min were crucial. Because of it they didn’t get in the game, which set the tone for the rest of the game, which forbid them to ever get in their game… They looked like the same team that lost the all important Lazio game 3-0 last year, and not the team that beat Lazio 2-0 this weekend… If we replicate the same occasion, the same atmosphere, the same importance but replace Liverpool with Norwich we still wouldn’t have been able to play our game. I am not taking anything away from Liverpool, but this game was not won by the genius or superiority of the Liverpool players, but by the inexperience of ours. When the game started, most players looked like they were suffering from inhabilitating anxiety, since for the 1st 25min they looked like borderline amateurs: awkward positioning, zero reading of the game, unsynchronized bursts of individual enthusiasm… There is no point talking about individual players, since even the “good ones” were bad. I don’t want to give anyone credit for not being as bad as the others, since that doesn’t make them good. In reality they were all below what we know that they are capable of. But I also think, they will all overcome this, and we will see a vastly different game in the return leg.

      I think this was an important humbling experience, that will do us more good in the long run than a win would have done us.

  20. It’s funny though, the player that lowered his salary to join Milan is currently our best midfielder (Tonali) and the player who wants 8M per year was God awful today against Liverpool.

    Exchange for Tiago Alcantara!

  21. our midfield is in disarray, tonali should be a starter, and kessie I’m disappointed with his performance, better sell him and find a replacement for a new playmaker vlasic in the range of 30 million€

  22. How on earth would you rate Florenzi higher than Kessie in that match. I didn’t agree with the Kessie ranting, it may not be the vintage Kessie performance but his interceptions, blocking and closing spaces were not bad. Above all, not a bad performance from the team and i believe both the coach and players need to learn from their mistake.

  23. I really appreciate the team performance in general coming out to fight the way they could even if we all knew they could do better on there good days….after a very long 7 years without champions league football finally this our young team made it there and majority of the comment here raining harsh and mean insult on them like we are already out of the competition …..common people ..lets take it a step at a time in a right direction..
    The great team we use to have back then did not happen in a night considering the budget at the management disposal ….we still have 5 more games to make it out of the group stage….

    What I don’t appreciate is the rating …..
    How can tonali that I saw yesterday for the few minutes he was on be rated 6% with the sloppy passes ….
    We are all Milan fans ….lets not criticize some to make one look better


  24. Your guys are still not getting this straight..this are players who has never featured in any classic tournament apart from just 3-4 of them..Raphael leao was absolutely out of the slow on the ball..kessie and bennecer was another pain..I never really blamed the rest cause they played well..rather I will blame the poli who never started the match with a striker..if giroud was on the pitch from the start,they was a certain ball that rebic moved with without having anyone to pass the ball to and that would have been a very good Goal if Giroud has started the match..for me leao is the worst player going forward cause if he played like rebic did..the match would have been something superb…kudos boys next match will be much more better..I’m proud of our boys…


    If player doesnt renew/decide dont let them play. or they will play like Kessie, they cannot Focus 100%. at this level even krunic is better than kessie

    that 1st goal by liverpool, kessie was missing from middle pressure. he actually getting lectured by maignan and bennacer cause its so dumb to let go of runner like that

    since kessie cant play/hold ball, all the pressure are put on bennacer, which makes easier for liverpool as theeres only single unit to pressure in ‘2-man pivot’.

    we can see the attacking department are frustated not to get balls forward. this midfield concern need to be addressed fast.

    Kessie, sign the contract or GTFO and dont play at all TQ

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