AC Milan’s unbeaten run came to an end as Juventus beat them 3-1 at San Siro to throw the title race wide open in the Serie A.

Federico Chiesa starred for Juventus as the Bianconeri earned one of their most crucial league wins of the season. Juventus’s victory saw the 10-point gap between the two teams reduce to 7 with a game in hand, which means that they are very much in the title race. As for AC Milan, thanks to Inter Milan’s loss to Sampdoria, they remain top of the table despite losing for the first time this season.

It was a very open match with a lot of end to end action. Both teams tested the goalkeepers several times but the few moments of brilliance separated the two sides. Federico Chiesa was simply unplayable and combined with Dybala, who set him up with a delicious back-heel assist for the first goal.

Milan’s Davide Calabria then equalised close to half-time with a precise finish into the top corner and the two teams went in level at at the break. It was Juventus that took the game by its throat in the second half as Chiesa showed yet another moment of brilliance with a terrific finish into the bottom corner that Gianluigi Donnarumma had no chance of saving whatsoever.

Just as Milan looked like they could get back in the game, Juventus increased their lead as the two substitutes combined to good effect. Dejan Kulusevski drove on the right side with purpose and evaded Alessio Romagnoli with ease before sliding and setting up Weston McKennie for a simple finish.

 

It was a fantastic performance from Juventus, who, despite starting the game slowly, went onto dominate it. Three important points for the Bianconeri as they continue their perfect record in the new year. AC Milan, on the other hand, need to lift themselves from their first league defeat and take advantage of the slender lead they possess. The Hard Tackle now rates both sets of players.

AC Milan

Gianluigi Donnarumma: 6/10

Despite conceding three goals, there was very little Donnarumma could do for any of them. However, Milan’s no. 1 made some terrific stops to keep Milan in the game and did not hold back in showing his frustration at his shambolic defence.

Diogo Dalot: 5/10

Despite not particularly impressing, Dalot was not as bad as the others. Took great initiative going forward but was exposed a few times in the defensive phase. Ultimately did well ultimately to keep Cristiano Ronaldo uninvolved for large parts of the game.

Simon Kjaer: 6/10

On a night where Milan’s captain disappointed, it was Kjaer that stepped up and performed to his level best versus a tricky opposition. Kjaer made 7 clearances and won 5 out 6 aerial duels as well. He also showed his passing range by releasing Rafael Leao on a quick counter-attack in the first half.

Alessio Romagnoli: 4/10

It was a difficult night for Romagnoli who seemed to be involved in all the three goals for the wrong reasons. Failed to contain Dybala for the first, block Chiesa’s second and for the third, the experienced defender was skinned by the young Kulusevski. Disappointing.

Theo Hernandez: 4/10

Hernandez seemed to have found himself in an exciting match-up against Chiesa right from the start. Hernandez left a bit of himself on Chiesa in the beginning with two nasty challenges for which the Frenchman duly deserved a booking. However, Chiesa responded by scoring two goals and Hernandez had no response. It was a sluggish performance by the French left-back.

Davide Calabria: 6/10

One of the few bright spots for Milan, Calabria scored the Rossoneri’s only goal with a pin-point finish and excelled in an unorthodox midfield role. A different option for Stefano Pioli for the future.

Franck Kessie: 5/10

Did the dirty work but did not really impose himself on the game. Made a couple of good challenges in the defensive third and prevented Juventus’s midfield from really getting a hold of the game. Had a passing accuracy of 94%, in what was perhaps the only positive.

Samu Castillejo: 5/10

Had a few opportunities thanks to Juventus’s cheap giveaways but the Spaniard failed to capitalise on those opportunities. After a lively cameo versus Benevento, a lot more was expected from Castillejo who failed to impress on his first start of the new year.

Hakan Calhanoglu: 6/10

One of the few positives for Milan, Calhanolgu was heavily involved in the build-up for the Rossoneri. He had a 100% accuracy for all the 9 long balls attempted and also attempted some eye-pleasing Hollywood passes. Calhanolgu tested Szczesny three times in the game, but the Polish goalkeeper was equal to those efforts. Unlucky.

Jens Petter Hague: 4/10

Handed a rare start on a difficult night, Hauge failed to step up as he was largely anonymous throughout the game. Lost the ball 12 times and made some poor decisions at the edge of the opposition’s box.

Rafael Leao: 6/10

Ran the channels hard, made things happen for himself and looked confident from the start as he took shots from good areas. Leao provided the assist to Calabria’s goal. However, the Portuguese dropped off tremendously in the second half.

SUBSTITUTES

Brahim Diaz: 5/10

Arguably should have started ahead of Hauge after experiencing some bad luck in the previous game. Diaz looked good in his short cameo as he got into good positions. Drew a foul in the box for which he probably deserved a penalty.

Daniel Maldini: 6/10

Showed great intent and desire to make things happen with a terrific run. However, if Maldini had chosen the right option and passed to Diaz in space, Milan could have had a second.

Andrea Conti: 5/10

Played a nice cross from which Calhanoglu tested Szczesny.

Pierre Kalulu: N/A

A perplexing substitution, with AC Milan chasing the game.

Lorenzo Colombo: N/A

Did not play enough to warrant a rating.

Juventus

Wojciech Szczesny: 8/10

A little suspect in possession, but apart from that it was a top-class performance by the Polish goalkeeper. Szczesny made 8 saves on a night where he seemed to be able to stop next to everything. His mini-battle versus Calhanoglu was one to watch on an impressive night for him.

Danilo: 6/10

Was caught out of position when Leao was left free on his flank. A move that led to Milan’s equaliser. However, Danilo did justice to his role as a more reserved full-back and showed his versatility.

Leonardo Bonucci: 7/10

Read the game very well on several occasions as he bailed Juventus out of difficult scenarios numerous times. Despite being defensively solid, Bonucci struggled a little with the ball due to Milan’s well-organised press.

Matthijs De Ligt: 7/10

A flawless performance from De Ligt, who was solid as usual. Made a good block to deny Calhanolgu a shot on goal. Solid in possession.

Gianluca Frabotta: 7/10

Impressed after being handed a rare start – defending well and creating chances going forward.

Aaron Ramsey: 5/10

Offered very little on the ball and was sloppy in possession, giving the ball away dangerously. Unimpactful from the Welshman.

Adrien Rabiot: 6/10

A game wherein Rabiot went about his job silently and diligently. The Frenchman completed 47 passes at an accuracy of 96% and lost the ball only 4 times, but the problem was that all of them were too safe. Rabiot could have impacted the game more and should have been more involved in the attacking build-up.

Rodrigo Bentancur: 5/10

After a string of terrific performances, Bentancur started the game in an absolutely horrid manner. He lost the ball three times in the first 15 minutes in dangerous areas, but AC Milan failed to capitalise. The atrocious back-heel in his own box was the worst of these errors. Despite improving as the game went on, Bentancur looked off-pace and sluggish throughout the entire 90.

Federico Chiesa: 10/10

With Juventus’s midfield rather lacklustre, it was Federico Chiesa who had to take matters into his own hands. Chiesa was the star of the night as he gave the Milan defence a torrid time, scoring two wonderful goals. Has been Juventus’s second-best player this season by a country mile.

Paulo Dybala: 8/10

Dybala notched up to two assists on a night where he looked to get heavily involved. Played three key passes with the creative assist for Juventus’s opener the pick of the lot. Slowly looking much like his older self.

Cristiano Ronaldo: 6/10

After a terrific performance versus Udinese, Ronaldo was completely anonymous in the crunch clash against AC Milan. Ronaldo often cut an isolated figure on the far left-hand side. He did play some neat passes in the second half but it was overall a disappointing outing by his standards.

SUBSTITUTES

Dejan Kulusevski: 7/10

A terrific run by the Swede who is battling to regain his lost place in the starting lineup. Kulusevski used his traits well by showing his lethal pace and neat feet to set up McKennie for the third. A terrific cameo.

Weston McKennie: 7

His off the ball movement is criminally underrated as he impacts the game very well from midfield. Came close to scoring upon coming on, before actually finding the third a few moments later.

Arthur: N/A

12 touches, 12 accurate passes. Arthur showed what he can do in his short cameo.

Federico Bernardeschi: N/A

Did not play enough to warrant a rating.

Merih Demiral: N/A

Good to see him back on the pitch.

Leave A Comment...

*