Player Ratings: AC Milan 1-0 Tottenham – Kjaer and Thiaw unbeatable

By Isak Möller -

AC Milan managed to build on their win against Torino as they beat Tottenham 1-0 in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16. Several players impressed and down below are the player ratings for the Rossoneri. 

Starting XI

Tatarusanu (6.5): He wasn’t really forced to that many saves but stepped up when needed, keeping an important clean sheet. He was also very good in the air and commanded the penalty box, which was needed.

Kalulu (7): A very solid display from the young Frenchman who barely put a foot wrong. Tottenham attacked more on their right flank but still, when he was called upon, he got the job done and partnered up well with Saelemaekers.

Kjaer (8): He did exactly what was needed against a player like Kane; stop him at all costs. He stayed close to the Englishman and made life difficult throughout the game, even if another referee probably would have booked the Dane in the first half.

Thiaw (8 – MOTM): It was another fantastic performance from the German as he not only won more or less all of his duels, but he also impressed with his distribution (hockey assist for the first goal). He would have got a higher rating if it wasn’t for the miss from close range towards the end.

Saelemaekers (6.5): Another good outing from the former Anderlecht man, especially in the defensive phase. His ability to shift from defending to attacking is why Calabria had to start on the bench again.

Krunic (6.5): He was unfortunate to get a few cheap fouls against him but did well otherwise. His presence in the middle, mainly in the defensive phase, helped Milan neutralise the opponents effectively.

Tonali (7): Much better this time out from the boyhood Milan fan, giving everything from start to finish. We saw a lot more of his passing and he was also quite successful when he went forward, which won Milan the midfield battle.

Hernandez (7.5): A very important performance from him, which frankly silenced the recent rumours about his dedication. He got the crucial assist after winning an aerial duel and he was a constant threat to Spurs down the left-hand side.

Diaz (7.5): He shouldn’t just be praised for the goal, even if that turned out to be the winner, but his ability to break the lines and shake things up really helped Milan. He’s also good in tight areas and that showed in many 50-50 fights for the ball.

Leao (7.5): He looked like a completely different player tonight compared to recent weeks as he not only managed to cause issues for the opponents in attack, but he also tracked back on numerous occasions. He nearly got a lovely assist for Thiaw and came close to a goal himself.

Giroud (6.5): Nothing spectacular from the experienced striker but he ended up winning many duels out there. This was important as Tottenham seemed a bit frustrated.


De Ketelaere (6): He nearly got a goal but his header was blocked by the defenders. Decent otherwise.

Messias (6): He added some energy on the right flank and that was just what Milan needed at the time.

Pobega (N/A): He didn’t play enough to get a rating.

Rebc (N/A): He didn’t play enough to get a rating.

Tags AC Milan Malick Thiaw Simon Kjaer Tottenham


  1. Courageous performance by the lads. Kjaer has certainly lost some mobility since the injury, but he is an absolute warrior. Watching him and Thiaw Bully Harry Kane all over the pitch was fun to watch. Way to go Diaz, another Champions League goal. We probably should’ve had another goal but we’ll take the win. Looks like they are starting to adjust to the 3 CB formation while still getting some pressure up front. Hope it continues. CDK tho.. Poor kid.

  2. Time to let Vranckx shine next.
    And give CDK some consistent game time, instead of playing Giroud until the end every single match.
    On to London to secure Quarters!

      1. How’s would you know, he’s hardly played at all. And he hasn’t been bad when he’s played. He certainly can’t be worse than Pobega or even Tonali for that matter. That’s like saying Adli has been terrible, there’s really no way to tell. Haven’t seen enough from him.

  3. Well, De Ketelaere missed goal, and the ball just catch a little bit player. It would be bigger miss.

    Team well prepared and dedicated running for every ball. Reason for this season fall is very bad rotation, no bigger names, than Pioli forsing his play without adequate players and injuries.

    That’s why Milan always must rotate new players, young players no matter what. Creation of new players is never ending process, so you can’t do thing like Liverpool.

    1. Don’t get too ahead of ourselves
      That was a depleted Spurs side and in Milan

      The real test is when they travel to London and Pioli will definitely be in the spotlight for certain
      His time maybe up and Zerbi to come ?

  4. Good result. Too bad for the 2 missed headers by CDK and Thiaw
    De Ketelaere header was going for a throw in because it was so of the mark, luckily Perisic touched it and end up for a corner. That was awful by CDK.
    Thiaw was awesome, just like Kalulu. Kjaer got better with the game.
    Very good game by Saelemakers again in his real position as a wing back.
    Theo was good in the 1st half and he got lucky on the goal because he had Saelemakers wide open on the other side for a tap in but instead he took a shot.
    Speaking of shooting, Leao is the worst that I have ever seen. Pioli needs to make him stay after training and practice his shooting because 99 out of a 100 his shot will end up in the 3rd tier of the stands.
    Good game but Brahim and Giroud.
    Hopefully with Bennacer, Tomori and Maignan back by the 2nd leg we can go through

    1. You are wrong about Leao. Fourth Tier is more accurate , however we almost had a header from one of the Curva Sud on his shot.

  5. I’m not sure which game you were watching.

    Kjaer was a 6, 6.5 at BEST and that’s stretching the truth.

    Both Kalulu and Thiaw performed far better and deserved 7+ ratings. Far far far more impressed with Thiaw. He should start now. Backline of Thiaw – Tomori – Kalulu with Kjaer/Gabbia as rotation.

    but Kjaer? Really? Nothing against Kjaer but he is out of shape and out of form.


    1. Kjaer controlled Kane very well and not many defenders can do that.

      Tomori is the one who needs to sit his ass on the bench, he’s already cost us too many points this season. He can play again when/if he gets his shit together.

      If he hadn’t got injured Pioli probably would never have played Thiaw. Tomori was playing every week on terrible form and Milan kept leaking in goals.

      1. Let get this thing straight…I must tell you…we need a very creative midfielder compare to CDK and A RW ….we majorly use the left side than the right side…we need a good RW like leao ..because if leao got injured milan will feel it Forzal milan

        1. Imagine our team with a creative midfielder and a RW who was able to provivde 10 goals & 10 assists per season. I mean… Wow. We would actually be competitive sometimes. 😀

          But instead we got Krunic-Tonali – a duo who cannot pass the ball forward even if their lives depended on it.

    2. You are clearly have a bias against Kjaer. He was brilliant in this game. Go back and watch. He personally saved at least 2 goals himself. He has lost mobility since coming back from the injury but the 3CB lineup helps him and tonight he was a warrior. Bullying Harry Kane is not easy.

    3. “Kjaer was a 6, 6.5 at BEST and that’s stretching the truth.”

      For what? Keeping the 3rd best goal-scorer in EPL quiet and as dangerous as a 3-week-old kitten? LOL. Kjaer had almost a perfect night and did his job 100%.

      How many real scoring chances did Spurs get? How many headers won in Milan’s penalty box? Eeeexactly. Kjaer (& co.) did perfect. Too bad you cannot see things how they really are.

  6. We are going thru. We got a positive result, we are getting Bennacer, Tomori and hopefully Maignan back for the 2nd leg and we are playing Conte teams who are awful in Europe.
    Tottenham is not a good team.
    Who are we playing in the 2nd round

  7. Didn’t like to say this but Messias seems pretty solid in that RWB position. It’d make Calabria on the last pecking order, sadly.

  8. cant remember the last time we looked like a proper team in european competitions. either way, its a good sight during these shitty times

    hope mike is fit for the rematch

  9. We pressed much better than recently. It wasn’t a great performance, but we have to take it as a win and clean sheet based on current form is huge. Tottenham we’re horrible though. Thiaw is just great.

  10. A good win for the team to build upon. As I have said before give the new players more game time to integrate, who knows what Adli might deliver if given proper chances. Best days of Simeon Kjaer are over, the injury did a bad one on him.

  11. Woo hoo! What a win!

    I agree with comments about Kjaer. He was not in our best defender.

    3 at the back seems to be working. Fair play to Pioli for turning it around.

    I’m sure all the armchair experts here would’ve turned it around sooner and been champions of the world by now.

    1. I don’t think anyone has claimed Kjaer to be “our best defender”. But you cannot argue the fact that it was Kjaer who kept the mighty Harry Kane in bay for +90mins. The 3rd best goal scorer in EPL history looked like a scared little choir boy in Kjaer’s hands.

      Give credit to where its due. Kjaer dominated Kane 1000-0.

  12. When i look at this Milan team, we are in serious need of good sound midfielder, because our present midfielder are jokes. No accurate forward pass from midfield, it show the limitation of Milan pass and why Bennacer is always needed. Other wings need upgrade but that middle need it more urgent. Anyway 2nd leg will be more harder than today

  13. Swedish experts (former national team players) commenting the game said only reason to exclude Zlatan from CL squad is because he will never play anymore. Thoughts?

    1. Would love to have him at the squad but it is definitely risky considering his age and injury. We just never know how he would fare and it would be a massive gamble to include him when realistically speaking, we’re not expected to go deep into the competition.

      I think unfortunately, the decision to omit him was in the best interest of everyone.

      As for the match, another clean sheet and of course we’re robbed of a better encounter as this was a meeting of two depleted teams, but we’ll take it!

          1. Yes, he needs no pats on the back, what I meant was a he is so wired up the bigger the match the greater he will physically sacrifice his body, with no care about tomorrow. We will need him healthy down the stretch and he will deliver ,when he steps on the pitch the odds change. Forza Ibra !

      1. Yes agree and sorry if I implied he has no “confidence”. He fears no one, and that sometimes is not a good thing,in Pioli I trust.

  14. Great performance by almost everyone.I like how messias went from serie c to ucl in 2 years,but he is not milan level.Would be nice for a fiorentina or torino.CDK has to be the worst signing since bonucci.25 games 0 goals and one assist.No more big game time until he plays good for once

    1. if you had watched all the matches of ac milan in serie a this season you would know that already after 10 matches CDK would have had 5-6 assists had it not been for horrible finishing from his team mates, Besides of that he has actually had some very unlucky headers that was actually brilliantly headead from a diffecult angles.
      Its a disgrace comparing his siginning with bonuccis, and i bet you have have complained about every signing milan have done from kalaulu to tonali to bennacerr to leaos and HAUGE gettinbg sold. BS the kid has shown great promise on numerous occasions.

      1. Which CDK have you been watching? Most of the time he’s invisible. When he appears he misses incredible chances. Like his header today from 5 yards out that was going 5 yards wide until the defender fumbled it out for a corner. This guy has completely lost his touch. Although he was only bossing in the Belgian league tbh. What a waste of 30 million.

        1. first of all i didnt speak of any headers of todays match but i mentioned that had his team mates in the first 10 games of his not squandered the passes he made he would have had around 5 assisists.
          At the start of the season there even was an article that put him in the top of players delivering decisive passes in europe. Regardless whether it mounted to something afterward shouldnt really be blamed on him as he created the chances, other people messed them up.
          In regard of headers i was referring to some situations in previous matches where he clearly was unlucky hitting the post .
          Im not saying he is perfect though far from it but he has deffently not been followed by luck up untill now either but the talent is clearly there to see.

          1. CDK actually never played a horrible match. He is not amazing but he is definitely not horrible and to just single out his finishing is unfair because our whole team sucks at finishing apart from Giroud and Theo. We also have to be real only chances he gets now are in final 30 to 15 min and he has to play with Messias and Origi of course he can’t do anything with those two around him. I am 100% conviced that in Napoli CDK would have been a beast this season..

        2. Gary, you don’t watch Milan games. Martin is right. CDK started the season with a lot of assists and Ith 2 goals, both cancelled by VAR because of offside of other players (Giroud and Origi). He assisted Tonali brilliantly against Atalanta for the win. But if the trainer loses faith in you, it’s very difficult to get back to the top ok your own. The downfall of CDK is on Pioli. And it’s Pioli’s task to bring him back. If we let CDK go, we’ll only be blzming ourselfs when he shines at another club.

  15. A good, solid display. Very happy for Kjaer, always a remarkable professional, deserves to be fully praised. Impressed by Thiaw, excellent display. Well, hope we can gain momentum and build on that.

  16. Player ratings were a little generous but well deserved considering the last month of matches. I tip my hat to Pioli to be bold enough to change the structure, of course once we were out of ascudetyo race, why not ? I see he got my memo on playing Theo higher up like Deschamps does, reaping benefits already two assist and almost a goal last week. Diaz seems to flourish when we have some “muscle” on the pitch. SOTM, (Save Of The Match) was Saelamaker. Tata. rated too high, stay closer to the net, you ain’t the “Leopard” Mainan, more like a Giraffe. He needs to buy Krunic a beer for saving his rear. I like the starting lineup with the “muscle/power” , only criticism is we took the foot off the gas playing not to lose toward the end. But my day and week were made Forza A.C.

  17. Some people dissing Kjaer, hes a leader!
    Just what we needed tonight.
    Will Tomori get back into this defence?

    Overall a hugely satisfying result, albeit we should have got that second goal.

    Tottenham were really bad, yet they dominated large parts of the game. We need to go to London with confidence and control the game.
    They will be much stronger.
    They have worse injuries than us.

    So its a step in the right direction but lots more improvement needed.

    Thiaw really good.
    Would like to see vranckx given more chances.
    Also think a more dynamic striker would suit games like this, Giroud can’t run.

  18. On a different note i was looking at bayerns bench
    against psg and noticed that they had an ibrahimovic of their own and looked it up and the quote might be old news but found this rather amusing quote from the 17 year old promising midfileder who by the way isnt related to zlatan

    article from a 4 days ago

    “Arijon Ibrahimovic: Who is the 17-year-old promoted to the Bayern Munich first team under Julian Nagelsmann?”

    “The tiger and the lion may be stronger. But the wolf doesn’t perform in the circus.”


  19. I’m starting to think Pioli stunted Saelemaekers by forcing him to be an attacking player when he is so clear a wingback. His work rate is better utilized in this position and it complements his game. These are the reasons I’m skeptical about Pioli.

    Bravo Milan!

    1. What bothers me about Pioli is his total rigidness about his plan. Tactical change that he is forced to do now should have been done a while back and even we fans with far les tactical knowledge saw that coming teams began to figure us out finally after 2 years of same game plan every match. Not seeing that he have no RW for years now and still beating the dead horse with Messias and Saelemakers on the RW. Not to mention our atrocious defending of corner kicks and only addressing that now after half a season. And the fact that he is playing Thiaw now in february is beyond me he was always impressive when he came on not just now menawhile Tomori sucked for the majority of the season and played, Pioli changed his ways only because he fucked us out of 3 competitions in one month. Let’s just hope that this is a wake up call for Pioli and also manegment that you can’t be competitive with doing nothing 3 transfer windows in a row

  20. Well done to the players. This was a much better game than expected. I have to say it is good to see Saelemaekers in his favorite position. Hard working player like him is very needed. Krunic looked very solid as well. His strenght and height is needed in the middle. Next up I would like to see more of Vranckx. Last a big applause for Thiaw. I see a bright future in the Milan defence

  21. CDK has to play more.And ,constantly.45 minutes per game are ok,the guy is great potencial.Against Tottenham…Thiaw great,Theo very good,Tonali in Battle mode,great game(twenty fouls suffered).Krunić(my landsman)—desaster!95% of playing ball backwards,cheap fouls,simple fouls….useless!I’ve been active in football for 40 years,and I still didnt notice what is he playing at AC Milan.He ,Gabbia,Florenzi,Tatarusanu,Mirante…maybe they are ok.For some other league.At Milan they are just burden who earn money.No use

  22. Good result, but still not convinced by the way we play. A physical game, unattractive style of play under pioli, but all matters is the win

  23. Tata had a weird clearance and was shaky at the beginning. He just doesn’t instill confidence at all. Not sure why his rating was so high. Anyways we have a goal to take with us. Hoping for the best in London. It’s gonna be tough

  24. Probably let Mesias play LWB since Balo is often below par, and Calabria might be able to play RCB if that will be our formation in the long term.

  25. Solid performances all around and the right mentality. Giroud deserves more appreciation. He won duels, held up the ball, made some smart passes and flick-ons, created chances for others, and helped out the defense plenty. He and Ibra make up for their lack of speed with quick smart decisions and that’s something that needs to be developed in the younger players and looked for in future signings. A shout out to Diaz as well who despite being inconsistent, always tries to make things happen. He seems to really want to stay and let’s not forget he’s still young.

  26. Thiaw is awesome. Cool head, physically formidable with pace, technical with a good pass. I would go as far to say he should be tried at the base of midfield alongside Bennacer and Tonali pushed higher up the pitch. It might work a la Desailly when Capello was coach.

    1. Actually CDK didn’t create anything. Yet Giroud gave him a fantastic scoring chance on a silver plate and CDK failed miserably. Giroud also put Leao through on goal. And Leao too provided couple of good chances to teammates. CDK? None. Nada.

    2. Man, these CDK people are ridiculous and delusional. He didn’t create anything. All he did was miss a wide open header from 2 yards. If Milan don’t end up going through it will be because of his miss.

  27. A much better performance from AC Milan,
    Defensive absolutely superb ,,more like the Milan of old …Also the attack did quite well …We did create good chances but did not put them away ..
    So we won the match 1 – 0 ..But a little disappointed as we should have won 2-0 …
    Of course we still have a chance to go through ..
    Rafeol leao was much much better and a real handful
    to keep quiet..

  28. Kajer and Thiaw were fantastic. Held Kane at bay. Both deserve praise. M&M looked to have found another gem in Thiaw. Makes me wonder what Aster (or even Adli) could be if given more playing time instead players like Poegba (who frightens me every time he lumbers on the field). Say what you want about M&M&M but they can find talent – just horrible at negotiating deals/sales lol. Theo looked like the Theo of old – rampaging up and down the wing – him and Leao (drawing double and triple teams) causing problems like last season. Tonali finally had a game we were all waiting for. Proves he needs to play along side a mid who does the dirty work like Kessie used to. Not a perfect game but a well deserved victory. Next game will be much more difficult and a second or third goal by either CDK or Thiaw would have been ideal going into next leg esp having to play in London.

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