Soualiho Meite endured a night to forget while Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Theo Hernandez also struggled as AC Milan succumbed to a 3-0 loss to Atalanta.
Atalanta made an aggressive start to the game, with the likes of Josip Ilicic and Duvan Zapata looking dangerous in the early stages, putting AC Milan on the backfoot. 26 minutes in the visitors opened the scoring as Cristian Romero headed home Robin Gosens’ cross from close-range.
Atalanta continued to dominate the proceedings, with Gianluigi Donnarumma forced into making a few saves, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed a rare opportunity to bring Milan on level terms before half-time. Early in the second period, La Dea doubled their lead via an Ilicic penalty after the Slovenian was elbowed in the box by Franck Kessie.
Ilicic created another chance for Zapata soon after, but the striker headed it over and hit the post with another effort. However, he did find his goal soon after, making no mistake after being sent through by Romero in the 77th minute to condemn the league leaders to a 3-0 defeat.
It was a disappointing display from Stefano Pioli’s men, but they were lucky that Inter Milan were held to a draw by Udinese, meaning the Rossoneri still have a two-point lead at the top. Here’s how we rated the performances of the AC Milan players at San Siro on Saturday.
Gianluigi Donnarumma: 5/10
Made a few saves in the first period, palming away Hans Hateboer’s dangerous cross-cum-shot and denying Zapata and Ilicic. Could have done better with the first goal and third goals though, while he got to the ball but could not stop the penalty either.
Davide Calabria: 4.5/10
Shredded apart by Atalanta’s high-press as he struggled to deal with the high-flying Robin Gosens on his flank while the visitors’ aggressive pressing meant he was pinned back in his own half for most of the game. Did make three clearances and interceptions each, but could not make an impact going forward.
Simon Kjaer: 6/10
One of the better performers for Milan on the night. Had his task cut out against Zapata’s physical presence and while he did fairly well on most occasions, could not completely negate the Colombian’s impact. Did make six interceptions and six clearances – the highest by any player and won three aerial duels. Needed better support from those around him.
Pierre Kalulu: 5/10
Stepping into the starting XI in place of the suspended Alessio Romagnoli, the youngster was left exposed against the dangerous Ilicic. Despite that, he did start on a bright note, before losing Romero for the opening goal. Had to be taken off injured in the second half.
Theo Hernandez: 4/10
Back into the lineup after missing the last game due to a coronavirus scare, the former Real Madrid man offered little in terms of defensive solidity against Atalanta’s wing-play, often leaving Kalulu exposed on the left side. Did try to make things happen when pushing forward, but it did not click for him on Saturday.
Franck Kessie: 4/10
Endured a torrid outing on Saturday as he was overwhelmed in the face of Atalanta’s aggression. After a very quiet first half, he gave away the penalty early in the second period, which practically killed off the game. Did complete a couple of key passes, but was nowhere near his best and was not helped by the lack of quality around him on the night.
Sandro Tonali: 5.5/10
Much like his midfield partner, Tonali, too, found it hard to beat the Atalanta press. Did complete four tackles and three interceptions, but still was not always able to thwart the opposition effectively. Managed to stitch together three key passes including the chance for Ibrahimovic that he spurned late in the first period. Needed to do more in order for Milan to assert some sort of control in midfield.
Samu Castillejo: 4/10
Looked devoid of any sort of creativity or guile in the final third as his presence was easily negated on the right flank. Did not complete a single dribble, make a single key pass or have a shot throughout the game. Disappointing.
Soualiho Meite: 4/10
Making his first start for Milan, the January signing played in an advanced role in midfield but was not able to carve out any opportunities for his teammates. Completed just 11 passes, offered little in terms of penetration and was substituted at half-time for Brahim Diaz. Playing as a No. 10 might not be the best position for the Frenchman.
Rafael Leao: 5/10
The Portuguese attacker, slotting in on the left wing, had a few bright moments early in the game, but grew quieter and quieter with time as Milan were played out of the park by Atalanta. Completed two dribbles and tried to help out at the back but did not carry enough threat to make any sort of headway in the final third.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: 5/10
For the first time this season, Milan have failed to produce a single shot on target in the first half of a Serie A game.
Wasteful in front of goal so far. pic.twitter.com/jA1qf0U1ei
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 23, 2021
The focal point of the Milan attack, Ibrahimovic won seven of his nine aerial duels in the final third and made one key pass, but was often guilty of slowing things down up top. Had a good chance to level things up in the first period but was not able to make it count. None of his five attempted shots tested the Atalanta goalkeeper.
Brahim Diaz: 6/10
A half-time substitute for Meite, and was much brighter than the man he replaced. Made a couple of good runs and played a key pass but was unable to drag Milan back into the game.
Mateo Mussachio: 5/10
Came on for Kalulu in the 57th minute. Made three interceptions and a couple of tackles but does not offer the desired quality when on the ball.
Mario Mandzukic: 5/10
Replaced Castillejo in the 70th minute to make his debut for AC Milan. Had a shot saved soon after coming on.
Ante Rebic: 4/10
On for Leao for the final twenty minutes. Had just ten touches and made four passes.