Ismael Bennacer & Diogo Dalot were the top performers as AC Milan secured a thumping 3-0 victory over Sparta Praha in the UEFA Europa League.
Following an upsetting 3-3 draw with AS Roma in the last game, AC Milan managed to get back to winning ways after securing a comfortable 3-0 triumph over Sparta Praha, in the UEFA Europa League.
The Rossoneri, who are leading Serie A, were the dominant side right from the start as they were looking to get an early breakthrough within the first quarter of the game. Their opposition, in contrast, provided very little threat going forward with striker Lukas Julis barely being involved in the proceedings.
— AC Milan (@acmilan) October 29, 2020
Milan deservedly got their breakthrough in the 24th minute as Brahim Diaz, having initially won the ball, capitalised on an excellent pass from Zlatan Ibrahimovic to score his third goal for his new club. The hosts could have easily doubled their lead before half-time, but Ibrahimovic missed a penalty, with his shot hitting the top right corner and going over.
That said, Ibrahimovic’s second-half substitute Rafael Leao didn’t miss the chance of doubling Milan’s lead in the 55th minute with a relatively easy finish before his Portuguese teammate Diogo Dalot provided more gloss to the scoreline in the 66th minute, essentially killing the game.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the AC Milan players following their comfortable win over Sparta Praha on Thursday.
Ciprian Tatarusanu: 6/10
In a game where Sparta Praha failed to amass a single shot on target, goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu, deputising for the Covid-19 infected Gianluigi Donnarumma, just had to be confident with his claims and ball retention. An easy clean sheet for the Romanian.
Davide Calabria: 6.5/10
With Dalot bombarding the left flank, Davide Calabria just needed to operate in a more defensive role. The right-back played out his defensive duties really well but wasn’t much of an outlet for Milan in terms of his offensive endeavours. He was replaced by Andrea Conti midway through the second half.
Simon Kjaer: 7.5/10
Kjaer was an absolute colossus in defence for Milan in this game. The Danish international provided very little freedom for Julis and company in the Sparta final third, with his imposing frame and aggression often becoming a problem for the away side.
As a result, the opposition indeed found it difficult to create proper goalscoring opportunities, ending up failing to secure a single shot on target. Kjaer’s incredible renaissance under Stefano Pioli continues and the experienced centre-back will, no doubt, be key in Milan’s chances of potentially lifting a trophy this season.
Alessio Romagnoli: 7/10
Alessio Romagnoli led the side well, providing excellent defensive cover for Kjaer, ultimately helping Milan shutting down the entire Sparta Praha attack. May have not played this game had it not been for Milan’s little injury crisis in the defensive department, though the Italian was replaced by the returning Leo Duarte in the final ten minutes.
Diogo Dalot: 9/10
Diogo Dalot is a strong contender for the Man of the Match, having provided unrivalled offensive support from the left flank. In the second half, in particular, the Portuguese youngster made a number of darting runs into the Sparta defence, which did unsettle the away side as one of those runs led to his goal in the 66th minute.
However, it was Dalot’s sublime cross with the outside of his right foot to assist Leao for Milan’s second goal that raised a lot of eyebrows. And in what was only his second game for the Rossoneri, Dalot may make a huge impact in his loan spell at San Siro this season.
Sandro Tonali: 7/10
Tonali was a vital cog in the AC Milan midfield with his passing and positioning. The young Italian barely put a foot wrong in the middle of the park, with his brilliant ball distribution playing a key role in helping Milan dominate the midfield. In fact, Tonali’s pass completion rate of 96% was higher than any other player on the pitch.
Ismael Bennancer: 9/10
While it was Tonali who anchored the midfield with his passing, the onus was on Bennacer to provide defence-threading forward passes and the ex-Arsenal star did that with aplomb. The midfielder set up the pass for Leao’s goal early in the second half before providing a direct assist for Dalot’s goal with a remarkable long ball. An absolute masterclass from the Milan midfielder.
Ismaël Bennacer vs Sparta
88% pass accuracy
2 key passes
6 accurate long balls
5/5 successful dribbles
1 aerial won
8/9 duels won
Fantastic performance, brilliant midfielder. 🔴⚫️🇩🇿 pic.twitter.com/Mt63dKz3cn
— Football Talent Scout – Jacek Kulig (@FTalentScout) October 29, 2020
Samu Castillejo: 6/10
Castillejo tried to make things happen by taking on the defenders. He provided a bit of flair on the right flank, but the penetration was missing and the Spaniard was often forced to play the ball back to his defensive teammate. Not the best of performances from Castillejo, which does not bode well for him as the likes of Brahim Diaz and Alexis Saelemaekers continue to make an impression.
Brahim Diaz: 8.5/10
Speaking of Brahim Diaz, the Spanish playmaker, on loan at AC Milan, was a key outlet for the Rossoneri going forward. He was the one who broke the deadlock by winning the ball and combining with Ibrahimovic to score the opener, effectively opening the floodgates within the first phase of the game.
Diaz’s ability to work in tight spaces, combined with his quick feet made him one of the primary ball carriers for Milan, though he wasn’t involved in any goal in the second half.
Rade Krunic: 6.5/10
Rade Krunic provided the work-rate in the final third, often looking to win the ball back for his team using his aggression and willingness to press the opposing ball-carriers. Unfortunately, the Bosnian did not exactly have an impact on proceedings as he eventually made way for Daniel Maldini in the final few minutes of the game.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: 7.5/10
Ibrahimovic showed his quality by providing the assist for Diaz’s opener. The Swedish icon also troubled the Sparta backline with his massive frame, eventually winning a penalty just before half-time. Unfortunately, the ex-Barcelona superstar failed to convert the spot-kick, before being replaced by Rafael Leao at half-time.
Rafael Leao: 8/10
Leao replaced Ibrahimovic at half-time and provided a more dynamic presence in the number ten role. As such, the Portuguese youngster was always an outlet on any potential counter-attacks, one of which led to his goal in the 55th minute. The forward also looked bright throughout the course of the second half and continues to improve under Pioli.
— AC Milan (@acmilan) October 29, 2020
Andrea Conti: 6.5/10
Andrea Conti made a welcome return from injury after replacing Calabria midway through the second half. It was some useful twenty minutes for the defender as he looks to settle into the campaign.
Leo Duarte: N/A
Made his return to the pitch, replacing Romagnoli with just ten minutes remaining on the clock. Didn’t play enough to warrant a rating.
Franck Kessie: N/A
A late replacement for the effective Bennacer. Didn’t play enough to warrant a rating.
Daniel Maldini: N/A
Replaced Krunic in the dying embers of the game. Didn’t play enough to warrant a rating.