A tough trio of games for AC Milan started away at Roma with the Rossoneri eager to collect yet another three points and get a big boost before the derby against Inter.
The task, however, wasn’t as easy as Jose Mourinho had not lost a home game in Serie A in his career, which was a run spanning 43 games. It was Zlatan Ibrahimovic who was determined to change that as the Swede was the main man on the night, scoring the opener with a free-kick and drawing the penalty that Franc Kessie scored to make it 2-0.
Milan were the dominant side right until Theo Hernandez earned himself a red card and left his team with a man down which eventually allowed Roma to pull one back, but it came in the third minute of added time and was too little too late. Here are five things we learned from the win…
1. Never doubt Zlatan
You really can’t criticise Zlatan Ibrahimovic for his performance on the night. At 40 years of age and with several injury problems in the last few months, the Swede didn’t really impress in the most recent couple of games even though he managed to contribute offensively, but it was a completely different story against Roma.
Zlatan rolled back the years and terrorised Mourinho’s side throughout the hour he was on the pitch as he managed to score a thunderbolt of a free-kick and won the penalty to help Milan secure all three points.
On top of that he provided a delightful assist for Rafael Leao, which unfortunately was just offside and VAR disallowed the goal. Ibrahimovic also scored a goal himself which was also ruled offside after VAR intervention. You simply can’t write the big man off as he still seems as determined as ever.
2. Viking spirit
Speaking of great performances, Milan’s centre back pair was simply brilliant on the night with Simon Kjaer winning the MOTM award in our post-game ratings.
The Dane was a wall in the last half an hour when his team were down to ten men and had to defend as he stopped everyone coming his way in order to keep that clean sheet. Everything that came into the box was dealt with by Kjaer as he showed all his composure, experience and anticipation.
Unfortunately for him Roma did manage to score in the dying seconds of the game but the 32-year-old’s performance was simply brilliant yet again and it just proves why he is regarded as one of the top centre-backs in the league at the moment.
3. Naive mistake
Theo Hernandez had been absent for a couple of games due to Covid-19 and nobody was expecting him to be at full speed in his first start after recovering. That being said, the disappointment doesn’t come from the fact he wasn’t as sharp as he was – which is completely normal after missing time – but the problem was his poor decision making.
His defending ultimately led to him earning himself two yellow cards, putting his team in a tight spot and also missing the derby with Inter next week. There is some controversy about the second yellow and a foul in the build-up, but he really should have known better than to get himself sent off.
4. Back to his best
After a bit of criticism towards Leao last week, solely because of the fact he looked a bit tired, the Portuguese looked very lively against Roma causing a havoc on that left flank whilst also getting close to Zlatan in a central position on a number of occasions.
The youngster had a lovely goal disallowed and he won the free-kick which Zlatan scored to give Milan the lead. Whilst Leao didn’t pick up a goal or assist, he truly was involved in the majority of dangerous attacks Milan had and continues to show he is ready for the next level.
.@RafaeLeao7 🆚 Roma
🏄♂️ That disallowed goal was a work of art.
— SempreMilan (@SempreMilanCom) November 1, 2021
5. The tank is back
Pioli will have many reasons to smile after the big win, but one specific reason has to be Kessie’s performance. The Ivorian seemed a bit lost in the beginning of the season with both Tonali and Bennacer playing miles better and enjoying a hot run of form.
However, Kessie seems well rested now after a long summer of football and a slight injury he picked up and has no intention of giving up his starting XI spot. The Kessie-Bennacer duo worked well against Roma and he even managed to score from the spot and secure all three points for his team.
Now, having seen the Kessie from last season, Pioli will have the tough decision to choose between Tonali, Bennacer and Kessie for the midfield pivot.