Franck Kessie stole the show as AC Milan beat Atalanta 2-0 at the Gewiss Stadium to clinch a top four finish in the Serie A.
The first half was a cagey affair for the most part, with both sides tentative in their build-up plays. When the moves did start to flow, neither goalkeeper was troubled, with pretty much all the efforts directed off target. But, just ahead of half-time, AC Milan went on to grab the lead through Franck Kessie, who converted from the spot after Theo Hernandez had been brought down inside the Atalanta box by Remo Freuler.
Post the interval, Atalanta stepped up their efforts to score a goal, but Milan defended diligently and frustrated their hosts to no end before a second penalty converted by Kessie wrapped up the three points and a top four finish for the Rossoneri. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Stefano Pioli’s men.
Gianluigi Donnarumma: 6/10
The Player to Watch in our preview, Donnarumma enjoyed one of his easier outings this season, even though Atalanta were in control of the proceedings for the most part. In fact, the AC Milan no. 1 just had to make one stop, which was nothing short of a regulation save. A clean sheet well earned for the skipper.
Davide Calabria: 8/10
One of those games in which Calabria was not given the chance to embark on forays down the right flank relentlessly. In fact, the Italian international attempted just 1 cross all game, but his output off the ball was impressive, although there were a few nervy moments in the defensive phases. In the end, though, he did well to win 4 duels while making as many as 8 clearances. Job well done.
Simon Kjaer: 8/10
The leader of the AC Milan defence in the absence of Alessio Romagnoli, Kjaer was top class on the night and kept the backline organised with elan. On a personal level, the Dane was instrumental in keeping Luis Muriel at bay in the second half, while he won 4 duels, made 4 clearances while also completing 3 tackles, 2 interceptions and a block. Solid effort.
Fikayo Tomori: 8/10
Apart from one moment when he was beaten by Duvan Zapata, Tomori was hardly troubled on the night. The Chelsea loanee, in fact, kept a check on the Atalanta striker with aplomb, while winning 3 of the 4 duels he contested and making 5 clearances as well. On top of that, he only lost the ball four times, which helped take some of the pressure off of Milan.
Theo Hernandez: 8/10
Yet another top-notch display to round off a memorable campaign for Theo Hernandez, who played his part in earning AC Milan the win, having won the first penalty converted by Franck Kessie. The 23-year-old also won 9 duels while completing 2 tackles, doing his best to keep Atalanta at bay. It really is a wonder how he did not get picked in the France squad for the Euros.
Franck Kessie: 9/10
The clear standout in the game. Kessie converted those nerve-wracking penalties of his, complete with a stuttering run-up, with each, leaving Pierluigi Gollini with no chance to save them. Off the ball, the former Atalanta man was relentless in denying his former side, winning 9 duels while completing 5 tackles and 3 interceptions. There were a few iffy moments, though, on the ball, but it did not do any harm in the end.
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) May 23, 2021
Ismael Bennacer: 7/10
There were some positives and some negatives for Bennacer in this game, but considering the magnitude of the game, the positives outweighed the negatives here. Stepped up on the defensive front and along with Kessie, the Algerian restricted Atalanta considerably. However, his output on the ball was poor and he completed only 76 percent of his attempted passes.
Alexis Saelemaekers: 6.5/10
As ever, Saelemaekers was a bundle of energy in the final third and worked hard to make things happen. However, the Belgian winger also missed a fine chance early in the game, which pulls his rating back a little. Having said that, he impressed with his work ethic on the day, as he supported Calabria defensively quite well.
Brahim Diaz: 6.5/10
Handed another start in the no. 10 role, Diaz produced a blow-hot-blow-cold performance on Sunday, although a lot of it was also down to the fact that he did not really see the ball all that much, with Atalanta controlling the proceedings for the most part. Did play a key pass, though, before being taken off at the hour mark.
Hakan Calhanoglu: 6/10
Not the best of performances for Calhanoglu, who was quite wasteful with some of his passes and never really created a chance in the game. Lost possession an alarming 12 times, although he did win the second penalty that Kessie converted while also putting in the hard yards off the ball.
Rafael Leao: 6.5/10
A game of hits and misses for Leao, who troubled the Atalanta defenders with his movement all through his stay on the pitch. However, for much of the game, he was feeding off scraps, while he did miss a fine opening when he ended up smashing the woodwork in the first half.
— Rafael Leão (@RafaeLeao7) May 23, 2021
Rade Krunic: 7/10
Krunich hardly saw the ball after replacing Bennacer around the hour mark, but this performance was more about how he fared in the defensive phase, wherein he was quite impressive, providing ample support to Kessie and thwart Atalanta time and again.
Soualiho Meite: 7/10
Meita has not been entirely impressive in the second half of the season for AC Milan, but against Atalanta on Sunday, the Frenchman stepped up, supporting Kessie ably in the middle of the park while winning each of the duels he contested.
Mario Mandzukic: N/A
Sent on in place of Leao, Mandzukic barely got a touch on the ball in the dying stages of the game.
Diogo Dalot: N/A
On for Saelemaekers for the final 10 minutes or so, Dalot helped see the game out without much of a fuss.