Ismael Bennacer is the hero as AC Milan strike late to overturn a spirited fightback by nine-man Bologna.

AC Milan left it late to steal all three points against Bologna who remained defiant despite going down to nine men, The Rossoneri raced to a two-goal lead in the first half thanks to strikes from Rafael Leao and Davide Calabria.

Adama Soumaoro was sent off in the 20th minute, giving Milan the numerical advantage early on in the proceedings. It appeared to be just another day at the office for Stefano Pioli’s side. It was his 100th game in charge and will be satisfied with the fightback his side showed on the night.

What appeared to be a regulation win was thrown into doubt after Zlatan Ibrahimovic put through his own net in the 49th minute. Musa Barrow drew the home side level in the 52nd minute before Roberto Soriano’s 58th-minute dismissal killed their momentum.

Bologna defended resolutely with the home crowd cheering them on in full voice. However, Milan had the final laugh thanks to a late flurry of goals. Ismael Bennacer broke the deadlock in the 84th minute before Ibrahimovic put through the right net in stoppage time.

The win also sees Milan eight of their first nine games in a Serie A season for only the second time in their history. They previously did so in the 1954/55 campaign. The Rossoneri won the title that year and will hope that history repeats itself.

In the end, Milan were able to make their quality and extra manpower count in a vital three points that keeps them in the title race. We at The Hard Tackle now take a look at how the players fared on the night.

Ciprian Tatarusanu (6/10)

The 35-year-old made a number of saves and stepped in well for the unavailable Mike Maignan. While he did have some shaky moments, he largely held his own. Milan will hope he will grow more confident in the games to come.

Davide Calabria (7/10)

The captain on the night, Calabria put in an excellent performance on the right. He played a key role in most of Milan’s attacks down that side and notched up his side’s second goal on the night. Was also dependable defensively.

Simon Kjaer (6/10)

The veteran defender should have done better to deny Bologna their second goal on the night. H otherwise looked solid and passed the ball around accurately. His long ball upfront led to Soumaoro’s dismissal.

Fikayo Tomori (6/10)

The Englishman was reliable once again and stepped up when needed. Little he could have done regarding either of Bologna’s goals. He has settled in well at Milan and it shows. The summer decision to quit Chelsea is proving all the more judicious.

Fode Ballo-Toure (6/10)

An industrious performance from the Senegal international who ran up and down the flank all game. He helped set up Milan’s second of the night and was also involved in the incident that saw Soriano sent off.

Sandro Tonali (6/10)

The Italian was in good nick at the middle of the park and impressed with his passing ability. He was taken off after picking up a yellow card, probably as a precaution. Kept things tidy in Franck Kessie’s absence.

Ismael Bennacer (9/10)

The star of the night, Bennacer ran the midfield and was a constant source of inspiration for the Rossoneri. He stepped up late not just to retain Milan’s lead but also provided the assist for Ibrahimovic’s clincher in stoppage time. A very important player for Milan at this point in time.

Samu Castillejo (6/10)

Started ahead of Alexis Saelemaekers but lacked the same impact as the Belgian. While he did have some good moments, it failed to hit the right spot. Unfortunately injured himself and Milan will hope it is not anything serious.

Rade Krunic (6/10)

Not his best night for Milan. Had a few moments here and there but nothing bordering on impressive. Taken off for Olivier Giroud in the second half.

Rafael Leao (7/10)

The Portuguese winger was a constant menace to the Bologna defenders and opened the scoring on the night. A good display from the youngster who appears to have luck going his way at the moment.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (6/10)

Far from the imperious player, we have all come to see and admire. Ibrahimovic failed to assert himself well and struggled for large parts of the game. His early own goal in the second half gave Bologna hope and it was also the first own goal of his career, at the age of 40!

The Swede, however, vindicated himself by scoring Milan’s fourth on the night. The strike downplays the poor night he had otherwise, though he is now the fourth oldest goalscorer in Serie A history.

Substitutes

Olivier Giroud (6/10)

Came on for the ineffective Krunic as Pioli shuffled his deck to play two upfront. The Frenchman had a glorious opportunity to head in a goal but failed to show his customary prowess in the air. It was well saved and he failed to fashion a similar chance again.

Tiemoue Bakayoko (6/10)

A decent outing for the player after he replaced Tonali in the second half. Was involved in Milan’s third goal and kept things ticking in midfield.

Alexis Saelemaekers (5/10)

Usually reliable, the Belgian looked a shadow of himself on the night. Little to write home about. His lone notable moment of the game came when he was awarded a yellow card not long after coming on.

Pierre Kalulu (NA)

Replaced Fode Balo-Toure in the second half following Bennacer’s goal. Little time to make an impact but helped Milan keep their shape in the dying minutes.

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