Udinese 2-3 AC Milan: Five things we learned – returnee shines and new forwards clutch

By Ivan Stoev -

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.

Tags AC Milan Serie A


  1. The 6th thing we learn is Pioli got his sub right thia time around. We actually played with 5 strikers together. Leao, Giroud, Pulisic, Jovic and Okafor all on the pitch at the same time.

    It really showed Pioli was very determined to get a winning in the match. Let’s appreciate him for doing well this time.

    To be honest, Pioli has better records than most of the coaches that are linked to Milan. Even Conte was defeated by Pioli in champions league.

  2. I don’t want to say a lot about this game, particularly the defensive aspect. Yes we did conceide stupid goals due to individual mistakes from Kjaer, Reijnders, Theo and Maignan, but given the racial abuses Maigan had to deal with, we could conclude that the mental aspect was affected.
    It was an ugly game in every sense of the term, from the fans to the tactics to the fools and refeering, so winning it is particularly pleasant.

  3. Not to sound too controversial….but I think the response to the racial abuse was misguided.

    First if you look around the world we’re losing the war on racism. Many countries including Italy now are turning to openly racist leaders. It seems drawing too much attention to idiots and turning them into martyrs might be backfiring. The regulation of racism, like smoking, has limits as ultimately human beings don’t like being told even if it’d will kill us.

    Second racism in football is more about virtue signalling than a sport serious about dealing with grappling with issues. Modern football increasingly is turning to some of the most brutal regimes on the planet whilst the money swirling around is compounding inequality – the very inequality which is leading to division and racism.

    Third we don’t know what the intention of the fans was. The modern woke culture is obsessed with viewing all things from the point of view of the recipient of the communication and ignoring the intention of the maker of the communication. But the intention of the communicator is key to understanding their motivation and therefore key to addressing the underlying cause or issue. Many people who tell racist jokes are not racist and in fact they do it for shock value in the knowledge of how offensive they know the joke to be. That’s good for society – it’s good for society if the teller of racists jokes is doing it to shock people because it means racism shocks. But woke culture has desensitised people to racism.

    Was the motivation of these idiots racism or was it putting a player off his game? We need to know this because if we get this wrong we push these people towards actual racists.

    Finally if you’re going to deal with racism than deal with it – short and sharp. If football has decided to ban all forms of racism then don’t mess around. If the chants are deemed offensive immediately suspend the game and award the points to the team whose players suffered the abuse. At the very least this will help identify whether the perpetrators are actually racist or are just trying to win a game (using dirty tricks).

    1. It sounds like you’re approaching it from the objective point of view of someone who has never been racially abused. Yea fans, can do their best to throw opposing players off their game but there are plenty of ways to do that without bringing race into it. It’s a very inhumane thing to do. And Italy, like other countries, has a big problem that isn’t going away.

      I can tell you, as someone who has been on the wrong end, you don’t try to accept it objectively. It is something that hits and hurts on a very deep level. I don’t judge Mike for his reaction.

      As far as there being a whole lot done about racism except for strong words, I agree. FIFA huffs & puffs but doesn’t ever do anything concretely about it. I agree about the team whose fans are racially abusive should be forced to forfeit the game and lose the points. This way the clubs will be proactive in eliminating any and all racist fans at their games.

      1. I have been racially abused, or at least was called ‘Wop’ and other racist terms for Italians for years by class mates and even one teacher.

        I also have a particular interest in extremism and most things we do in response, particularly nowadays, are counterproductive.

        Extremism thrives off tribalism and the key to dealing with it is to isolate the extremist elements. We don’t do that when treat all racism or form of extremism the same way.

        And if you are to deal with racism and other forms of extremism you need to go in hard otherwise talking about it can make things worse.

    2. “Was the motivation of these idiots racism or was it putting a player off his game? We need to know this because if we get this wrong we push these people towards actual racists. ”

      Racism is racism. Disgusting. Do not try to sugarcoat it or make it “acceptable”.

  4. “Finally if you’re going to deal with racism than deal with it – short and sharp. If football has decided to ban all forms of racism then don’t mess around.”
    Simple and to the point. I don’t want to get into the complications of what is written above, but a player or a coach shouldn’t be in a position where he as to deal with this BS. It shouldn’t be acceptable for a human to be a professional athlete doing his job and getting called names.
    “If the chants are deemed offensive immediately suspend the game and award the points to the team whose players suffered the abuse. At the very least this will help identify whether the perpetrators are actually racist or are just trying to win a game (using dirty tricks).”
    Here I think is a bit more complicated and I don’t think it’s right to sanction a team directly, because the fans could be the other teams fans disguised in order to win by dirty tricks. Perhaps financial sanctions, and games without crowd should be considered.
    As for the individuals who have been identified, IMO whatever their motives (truely racists or just trying to win by dirty tricks) shouldn’t change their sanctions.

    1. Well if the game is cancelled and the team loses points then the fans will stop using those chants in future unless they really are, ideological, card carrying white supremacists. And if they are, that is a bigger issue.

      1. It doesn’t matter if they are “just” trying to put a player off his game. If they do this via insults about the players race; then that is racism. Thinking you can insult a player because of their race.

        They knew exactly what they were doing was wrong and once a warned with forfeit of the match via the stadium announcement; they switched to booing Mike as loudly as they could for the remainder of the game whoever he had the ball.

        I’m writing from Australia and this has been a big issue here in other sporting codes. Indigenous Australians who stand up for their rights and call out racism, are often booed incessently by opposing crowds when they go near the ball.
        These fans are clearly being racist and but they insist it is their right to boo anyone they like in the stadium.

        Link to a doco of this happening in Australia

        Unfortunately Serie A is seeing a similar pattern.

      2. I think one of my points wasn’t clear so I’ll try to use a made-up example.
        Let’s suppose in a game between Udinese and Roma, Udinese fans start using racist chants, while it seems logical to cancel the game and award the points to Roma, what if those fans were actually Roma fans that managed to sneak in Udinese’s tribunes and start using racists insult to make Udinese lose ?

  5. I’m always left disappointed by RLC. I feel like he has everything needed to be the best midfielder in the league but it’s just not happening. He’s doing good but his ceiling is so much higher.

  6. I’ve seen way worse performances by Reijnders. He still passes the ball well and is average at defending but he syncs up with the team very well. RLC keeps getting goals and is good with physicality but he can do so much more. imo he can do more and do better but he scores so it keeps some criticism away. Gabbia, as he got playing time at Villareal, came back gunning and I love it. I hope we don’t get a new CB. It would also be testament to his work. I also wrote here previously that he did well at Villareal..many of the goals conceded weren’t his fault at all. Matter of fact many times he was angry with his teammates for laspse of concentration. We have Tomori, Gabbia, Thiaw, Kalulu. That’s pretty solid to me..and we’re solid in general when full strength. Just need that DM to make things complete

    1. IMO for the summer we need a DM, a ST and perhaps an AM or a RW if we go back to 4-2-3-1 and Chukuweze really turns out to be a flop and that’s it.
      So overall, 2 or 3 quality signings should be enough.

      1. Yea the problem was the whole change of formation and so on. Proper DM and CAM would have solved our woes. ST search to replace ageing Giroud would be good too..

  7. Okafor is such a good player with huge potential but injuries keep slowing his progress down. His minutes to goal ratio considering his games are mostly from the bench are excellent. He has 4 goals and 1 assist in 412 minutes played.

    I hope Gabbia cements his place in starting 11 also after Tomori, Thiaw and Kalulu are back. It’s been a while since we’ve had a solid Italian CB in Milan and he’s only 24. I hope Spaletti is watching.

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