Hakan Calhanoglu was the standout performer in a wasteful AC Milan side that was beaten 2-1 by Sassuolo at San Siro on Wednesday.
AC Milan were hot off the gate and but for some poor finishing, they could have been ahead in the early stages of the match itself. On the opposite end, Sassuolo posed little threat, although Gianluigi Donnarumma did have to make one fine save to deny Jeremie Boga. However, it was Milan who took a deserved lead the half hour mark, when Hakan Calhanoglu scored with a gorgeous curler.
AC Milan continued to push forward thereafter and ought to have bolstered their lead further, only to either be denied by a save by Andrea Consigli, or make an inexplicable miss. Their profligacy would go on to hurt the hosts, in a seven-minute spell that saw Giacomo Raspadori score a match-winning brace.
His first goal saw him link up superbly with Jeremy Toljan before scoring from close range while the winner came courtesy some poor work by the AC Milan defenders, as Raspadori put the game to bed. The Rossoneri are now at risk of falling down to third on the table, if Atalanta win their match against AS Roma. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Stefano Pioli’s men.
Gianluigi Donnarumma: 6/10
Donnarumma looked like a rock in the AC Milan goal for the most part in the game, keeping the Sassuolo attackers at bay. However, he could not have done anything to deny Giacomo Raspadori from scoring. Solid enough with the ball at his feet.
Davide Calabria: 6/10
Having completed his recovery from injury, Calabria was drafted straight back into the starting lineup. The Italian international took some time to get going in the final third, but he was rarely put under pressure in the defensive phases. Won 10 duels while completing 6 tackles, 5 clearances and 4 interceptions. Pioli will hope to have his first-choice right-back at his best soon.
Simon Kjaer: 5/10
So solid last time out, Kjaer seemed to be continuing from where he had left off on the weekend and looked steady at the heart of the AC Milan defence. However, he gave the ball away cheaply in the lead-up to the second Sassuolo goal. One of only five misplaced passes by the Dane, it was a rare poor moment for him, but critical enough in the end.
Fikayo Tomori: 5/10
Favoured over Alessio Romagnoli, Tomori was hardly troubled in the first half and did well to marshal Gregoire Defrel. However, it all unravelled in the final quarter of the game, as the Chelsea loanee failed to put a lid on Raspadori, especially disappointing in the moments leading up to the goal that won the match for Sassuolo.
Diogo Dalot: 6/10
Drafted in at left-back due to the absence of Theo Hernandez, Dalot got a rare start. The Portuguese defender was superb in the first half, posing a great deal of threat going forward while being solid enough at the back. Post the interval, though, he faded quite dramatically and had a difficult time dealing with Domenico Berardi. Cannot fault him too much playing on his weaker side, though.
Soualiho Meite: 6/10
With Ismael Bennacer picking up an injury, Meite was given a chance to impress, only to produce a bit of a sub-par performance. The Frenchman did complete 91 percent of his passes while winning 5 tackles. However, he struggled to shut down Sassuolo during their late onslaught.
Franck Kessie: 7/10
Kessie was as Kessie usually is even when he is not in full flow. The Ivorian, for the most part, did exceedingly well to ensure AC Milan were on top. Hardly misplaced a pass, boasting a completion rate of 94 percent. However, the Ivorian was overrun with ease in the final stages of the game, when Sassuolo conjured up several chances before winning the game.
Alexis Saelemaekers: 7/10
A player who has been growing in stature for some time now. Saelemaekers did his fair bit to influence the result in favour of AC Milan, playing a joint-game-high 3 key passes. Linked up superbly with Hakan Calhanoglu and it was he who grabbed the assist for the Turk’s goal. In the end, though, he could not sway the result the hosts’ way.
Hakan Calhanoglu: 8/10
10+16 – Since 2020, only Henrikh Mkhitaryan (27) has been involved in more goals than Hakan #Calhanoglu (26: 10 goals + 16 assists) among midfielders in Serie A. Artist.#MilanSassuolo #SerieATIM pic.twitter.com/fxmRBqVopW
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) April 21, 2021
The clear standout for AC Milan, Calhanoglu once again showed just how important he is to his side’s fortunes. The Turkish playmaker seemed to be in his elements right from the early stages and came close to scoring once before breaking the deadlock with a peach of a finish. Posed a constant threat in the final third, which is why it was surprising that he was taken off first up.
Ante Rebic: 6/10
An odd outing for Rebic, who was hardly involved in the proceedings. The Croat managed just 21 touches while attempting a mere 7 passes. Did not see any chance coming his way and he could not muster up a single effort on goal. Worked hard off the ball, though, which helped his teammates in the final third as well.
Rafael Leao: 5/10
Another game, another performance that left a lot to be desired. While the Portuguese forward cannot be faulted for a lack of effort, his end product was once again sub-par. Did manage 3 key passes, but did nothing in front of goal. Has gone cold after a brief spell of top notch displays.
Rade Krunic: 5/10
On for Calhanoglu, Krunic ended up being a major downgrade on the Turkish playmaker, with AC Milan failing to make any sort of impact.
Mario Mandzukic: 5/10
On for Rebic, Mandzukic hardly got a touch on the ball in the final stages of the game.
Pierre Kalulu: N/A
Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Brahim Diaz: N/A
A late introduction, Diaz did not have enough time to make an impact and spark a turnaround.
Samu Castillejo: N/A
A late introduction, Castillejo did not play enough to warrant a rating.