Milan managed to get their fourth consecutive win in Serie A after a game full of twists and turns, which ended in the Rossoneri’s favour despite an unconvincing overall performance. Let’s take a look at five things we learned from the clash.
Milan took the lead in the 31st minute through Loftus-Cheek and it felt as if we were heading for another win. Especially considering the opponent’s weak performances thus far in the season.
However, it didn’t quite play out like that with Udinese managing to get a goal back before the half-time mark. The key moment, on the other hand, was shortly before that as Mike Maignan received racial abuse from the home fans. The game was halted for five minutes before it resumed.
Milan were clearly affected by this interruption, with Samardzic scoring the aforementioned equaliser after an individual error on Kjaer’s part, where he was beaten too easily by the midfielder. Maignan, although it was a great strike, was also rooted to the spot.
In the second half, things got even more interesting as Thauvin completed the turnaround for Udinese, following sloppy actions from Reijnders and Hernandez at the back. Fortunately, Jovic found the equaliser in the 83rd minute with a tap-in.
That gave some momentum to the Rossoneri’s game as they pushed harder and got their winner in stoppage time, in the 93rd minute more precisely, through Okafor who rescued his team alongside Jovic off the bench.
Not the most convincing game, for sure, but the players did show great character to come and grab all three points so let’s take a look at the five things we learned during the game.
1. Gabbia leading the way at the back
Despite the two goals conceded, Milan did look solid at the back with individual sloppiness spoiling the clean sheet. The loan returnee Gabbia was very impressive at the back, once again, and rightfully won our post-game MOTM.
The Italian made no mistakes and was consistently crucial throughout the game. He made several interceptions, one in particular in the second half, where he stretched himself to intercept a pass which most likely would’ve been a goal for Udinese in a very delicate moment of the game.
Gabbia came back from Villareal at the end of December where he was on loan amid an injury crisis. He has been impressive in pretty much every game he has played, acting as a true leader in Milan’s defence.
The centre-back has always shown that he has the qualities, though failing to get into the starting XI. Now, with the chance presented to him, he has certainly responded in the right way. Not to mention that he’s just 24 years of age, even though it feels like he has been around for quite a while.
2. Reijnders with an unusual performance
The Dutchman has been so good lately and seeing him play the way he did against Udinese was disappointing, to say the least. He made several mistakes when in possession of the ball and lost it in the exact same way a few times.
The midfielder was also a culprit on Udinese’s second goal, even though Theo probably is the main man to blame. As we mentioned, he has put the bar quite high lately and this performance was just dreadful by him, but hopefully it’s just a one-off.
3. Much better from Loftus-Cheek
The Englishman gave Milan the lead after a lovely finish and then went on to play a very strong game, despite being sloppy at times when on the ball.
But ultimately, he showcased his physicality yet again in the middle winning a lot of duels and fouls. The Udinese players didn’t know how to stop him, so they resorted to committing fouls against him.
Much better for him as he had struggled in the final third in the last couple of games, but this time he was efficient when he got the chance and was good enough for the rest of the game.
4. Mixed performances by French duo
Giroud and Hernandez had an interesting game against Udinese. The left-back picked up a lovely assist on the first goal and was very dangerous going forward, but then he made a sloppy mistake on Thauvin’s goal which could’ve proved very costly.
He did, however, continue to be dangerous going forward and was involved in the second goal that gave his team a massive impulse. A good game for him but that mistake hindered his overall rating.
His compatriot also had a game full of ups and downs. We’ve mentioned that Giroud struggles with his involvement in the overall game, but this time around he was involved in all three goals. He got an assist on the third goal, left the cross for Loftus-Cheek on the first, and it was his rebound that Jovic converted.
But it’s still a mixed performance because he had a couple of very solid chances you would expect him to convert, let down by his touch. Nevertheless, he had a huge impact on the game and we need to give credit where credit is due.
5. Okafor and Jovic to the rescue
Milan was in a very delicate spot and Pioli introduced Jovic as well as Okafor to try to add more firepower to his team. It proved to be a wonderful decision, as Jovic continued his goalscoring form with a ‘right place right time’ goal.
Okafor, who has been struggling with injuries throughout the season, also proved his worth as he got the winner in stoppage time. He showed good positioning and control of the ball, combined with composure to find the back of the net and secure the three points for his team.
A really impressive performance by Milan’s summer signings and with Jovic’s recent form, it’s becoming increasingly likely that the Rossoneri will want to keep him beyond the summer.
As for the Swiss international, he again proves his quality and Pioli will hope that he can stay fit and finally have an extended run of games where he builds up momentum.