Sandro Tonali was one of the few positives for AC Milan as they lost 1-0 to Napoli in Serie A on Sunday night, losing further ground in the title race.
The first half was a rather quiet affair with chances coming few and far in between for both teams. Rafael Leao did have a couple of opportunities to put AC Milan in front but was not able to beat David Ospina. Napoli, too, had a few openings but Piotr Zielinski was denied by Gianluigi Donnarumma while Dries Mertens fired wide from a decent position.
Milan began the second half brighter but it was Napoli who went in front as Matteo Politano beat Donnarumma with a low drilled effort in the 50th minute. The Rossoneri pushed hard in search of an equaliser as Leao and substitute Ante Rebic drew saves from Ospina while Theo Hernandez fired wide off the mark.
With hopes of salvaging anything from the game fading fast, Milan also lost a man as Rebic was sent off late in the contest for dissent against a decision, allowing Napoli to hold on to their narrow lead.
The result meant Milan are now nine points below leaders Inter, who defeated Torino earlier on Sunday. Here’s how we rated the performances of Stefano Pioli’s men on the night.
Gianluigi Donnarumma: 6/10
Made a good save to deny Zielinksi in the first half and produced another good stop to keep Fabian Ruiz out after the break. Not a lot he could have done to stop Politano’s goal.
Diogo Dalot: 5/10
Was all over the places defensively as Lorenzo Insigne and Elseid Hysaj got the better of him constantly. Was guilty of giving the ball away leading to the move for the only goal of the game. Showed some intent going forward after the break but the end product was not good enough.
Crazy how Dalot plays decent one game then forgets all the basics of football the next game
— Grego 🇧🇪 (@Grego_1899) March 14, 2021
Fikayo Tomori: 6/10
Apart from a hairy moment in the first half leading to a chance for Zielinski and the occasional danger posed by Insigne’s movement, the on-loan Chelsea man had a pretty solid game.
Matteo Gabbia: 6/10
Returned to the starting XI after a lengthy injury layoff and it showed that he had not been playing for quite a while. Nevertheless, was a composed presence at the back be it off the ball or on it. Could have done a bit better to react to Politano’s run for the goal, however.
Theo Hernandez: 5.5/10
Made his trademark forward bursts and tried to make things happen but was not alert enough in his defensive duties, allowing Politano the time and space to score the only goal of the game. Fired a shot just wide in the latter stages of the match.
Sandro Tonali: 7/10
Sandro Tonali admits this was ‘not the game we intended’ after a 1-0 home defeat to Napoli, but Milan must ‘continue to aim high.’ https://t.co/QDtk168T2J #ACMilan #Napoli #SerieA #MilanNapoli #SerieATIM pic.twitter.com/DzcNNWeAMd
— footballitalia (@footballitalia) March 14, 2021
One of the very few positives for Milan on the night as the young Italian showed quality and composure on the ball and worked hard without possession. Completed two key passes as he created a chance for Rebic while also producing three interceptions and a tackle. Must build on this display.
Franck Kessie: 6/10
AC Milan’s hero against Manchester United, the Ivory Coast international looked a bit jaded after his efforts in midweek as he lacked his usual energy and hustle in midfield. Kept things ticking with his precise passes but was unable to impose himself on the game in his usual manner and was taken off.
Samu Castillejo: 5/10
Getting the nod ahead of Alexis Saelemaekers, the Spaniard was pretty much a peripheral figure in the attacking side of things, hardly offering any threat or penetration in the final third. Worked hard off the ball but failed to fulfil his primary duties as an attacker.
Hakan Calhanoglu: 5.5/10
Coming back from an injury layoff, the Turkish international showed signs of rust throughout his time on the pitch. Wasn’t able to fashion any clear-cut chances for his teammates, although he did manage one key pass. Pioli will be hoping that he gets back up to speed quickly ahead of a crucial run-in.
Rade Krunic: 5/10
Once again starting in an unfamiliar role on the left wing, the Bosnian found it hard to get into the game and influence the proceedings. Did play one key pass but it did not lead to anything. An uneventful outing for Krunic who made way for Rebic in the second half.
Rafael Leao: 5/10
I love Rafael Leão. He's my follower since I can remember, I spoke to him and he seemed to be a really cool guy.
I still think he has everything to become world-class.
But his recent months at AC Milan have been just awful.
Wake up and focus on football, Rafael. pic.twitter.com/3T3UUIf4S3
— Football Talent Scout – Jacek Kulig (@FTalentScout) March 14, 2021
Should have done better with at least one of the two chances he had in the first half. Was not able to beat Ospina with another opportunity in the second period either. Did not offer much in terms of hold-up play at the top either before coming off injured. Milan are seriously missing Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Ante Rebic: 5/10
Thrown on in place of Krunic at the hour mark. Created a chance for Leao, tested Ospina with a good effort. Sent off after lashing out at the referee late in the game.
Rebic red card so dumb, puts his teammate in a difficult situation next week
— Siavoush Fallahi (@SiavoushF) March 14, 2021
Alexis Saelemaekers: 5/10
Came on for the ineffective Castillejo in the 60th minute. Added some energy but was not a major improvement on the man he replaced.
Brahim Diaz: 5.5/10
Replaced Calhanoglu at the hour mark. Bright, tried to make things happen but things did not fall in place for the Spaniard.
Soualiho Meite: 5/10
Came on for Kessie in the 67th minute. Was not able to make a major impact.
Jens Petter Hauge: N/A
On for Leao with a little over ten minutes left.