Junior Messias was the messiah with a late winner that keeps AC Milan in the frame to progress to the UEFA Champions League Round of 16.
AC Milan had an unlikely hero on the evening when they desperately needed inspiration from somewhere. Junior Messias’s late winner sealed the deal for the Rossoneri at the Wanda Metropolitano. They allowed themselves another chance to progress to the next round while sending Atletico Madrid bottom of the group.
Meanwhile, FC Porto missed their chance by losing to Liverpool, which keeps them in second. With the Merseysiders having already qualified for the knockout phases, the result at the Wanda Metropolitano opens up the race for the second spot, which will be decided on the final matchday. The first half was a cagey affair, with chances coming at a premium.
In the second period, the intensity picked up when both sides got their fair share of openings, without much to show for their efforts. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thomas Lemar missed good opportunities to break the deadlock, although nothing came until late in the game. Substitute Junior Messias turned the knob to open up a world of possibilities for Milan as he headed in a late winner.
However, Matheus Cunha’s glaring miss became the talking point as the Brazilian squandered a glorious chance to level things. Milan, courtesy of some excellent defending from Simon Kjaer, saw the game out and took their first win in Europe this season. Here’s how the players fared as AC Milan beat Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano.
3 golden points: we're still in the race lads, c'monnn! 👊
— AC Milan (@acmilan) November 24, 2021
Jan Oblak: 6/10
Oblak’s had a relatively quiet evening for most parts of the game and was majorly called into action late in the second half. The Atletico Madrid no. 1 made two good saves, with Milan only having four shots on target.
Stefan Savic: 7/10
Atletico Madrid’s best defender on the night, Savic made some important contributions to keep the scoreline at 0-0. He made one vital block from Tiemoue Bakayoko and will be disappointed with how the game ended.
Jose Gimenez: 6/10
Gimenez was decent at the back, although an unfamiliar pattern seems to be forming in his game as he continues to record bad passing stats. A 71 per cent pass accuracy on the evening will certainly leave Simeone scratching his head.
Mario Hermoso: 5.5/10
Overall Hermoso was decent, but a low rating is attributed to his involvement in the AC Milan goal. Otherwise, Hermoso was good in possession and progressing play out of the backline.
Marcos Llorente: 5.5/10
Kieran Trippier was missed by Simeone, as Llorente is not suited for most games in the wing-back role. He kept himself busy trying to make things happen from his position, although there was nothing substantial to show for his work.
Thomas Lemar: 5/10
Lemar was very effective, and Simeone surprised many by taking him off early. The Frenchman could have made something happen for the team late in the second half had he been on the pitch.
Koke kept things ticking in the middle of the park, always proving a thorn in AC Milan’s build-up play. The Spaniard was Atletico’s best midfielder and very effective at what he did without much glamour.
Rodrigo De Paul: 5.5/10
He did well from his midfield role, doing his best in tight spaces. Despite being decent offensively, De Paul was unable to influence the proceedings in the final third.
Yannick Carrasco: 3.5/10
Carrasco was terrible in possession, giving the ball away too many times for Simeone’s liking. He was in the team to influence the proceedings from the left-hand side and did nothing of his usual quality.
Luis Suarez: 3/10
Simeone should have stuck with playing Griezmann up front, as his partnership with Suarez never seems to work. A very quiet evening for the Uruguayan as he completely failed to influence anything in the final third.
Antoine Griezmann: 5/10
He looked involved and reiterated that Simeone should start him more as the solitary striker rather than pairing him with Suarez, especially when the Uruguayan seems out of form.
Angel Correa: 4/10
Simeone sent Correa on to be the game-changer and was left disappointed. The Argentine failed to make an impact on the game.
Renan Lodi: 5/10
Lodi was an outlet from the left-hand side after Simeone brought him and changed the system a bit. However, he was not an effective substitution.
Matheus Cunha: 3/10
¡Mateus Cunha se ha marcado un Seferović en el descuento!😱😂 pic.twitter.com/EapyLmd4vU
— Un Culé Honesto (@Culehonesto) November 24, 2021
Cunha could have been the hero of the match and the game-changer had he not missed the golden chance late in the game to level the score.
Sime Vrsaljko: N/A
Vrsaljko came on too late to have any impact on the match.
Geoffrey Kondogbia: N/A
A surprise exclusion from the starting lineup, as the Frenchman tends to influence games with his skills in possession. He came on too late to have any impact on the match.
Ciprian Tatarusanu: 6/10
With each passing game, Tatarusanu keeps proving his worth as a reliable deputy for Mike Maignan. He made a couple of good saves to keep the scoreline in control.
Pierre Kalulu: 6/10
Fortunately for Kalulu, Carrasco had a quiet game and as things looked under control, the makeshift right-back started making forward plays. He proved an attacking threat on the evening.
Simon Kjaer: 8/10
A terrific game from Milan’s defensive leader. Kjaer ensured Suarez and Griezmann had an off night as the duo failed to get past him or create anything in the Dane’s zone.
Atletico Madrid had Griezmann, Suarez, Carrasco, Lemar, de Paul, Cunha, Angel Correa, etc..
And Milan still left with a clean sheet.
Romagnoli and Kjaer unsung heroes for the night pic.twitter.com/pLB8G81yXd
— Saturnion (@saturnion13) November 24, 2021
Alessio Romagnoli: 7.5/10
In Tomori’s absence, Romagnoli slotted in well and put in a masterful performance. Like Kjaer, kept the Atletico forwards in check without allowing them even a sniff at Milan’s goal. Moreover, he was top-notch in possession.
Theo Hernandez: 7/10
Hernandez was back to his best as he made those bursting forward runs to give Milan an edge in the final third. His deliveries into the box were excellent throughout while keeping the attackers in check with decent defending at the other end of the pitch.
Franck Kessie: 8/10
Kessie justified his inclusion in the side ahead of Bennaccer, as he rarely gave up control of the midfield to Atletico. He was troubled at times by Koke, although Kessie relished the battle while setting up the winner for Junior Messias.
The post-match reactions from the Boss, Kessie and @Brahim after tonight's win 🎙️#AtletiMilan: ascolta le dichiarazioni post-partita del Mister, Kessie e Díaz 🎙️#UCL #SempreMilan pic.twitter.com/DrsmHHui9i
— AC Milan (@acmilan) November 25, 2021
Sandro Tonali: 6.5/10
Tonali took up the mantle of screening the defence, making some important interceptions and recording three tackles. He helped Kessie control the midfield.
Rade Krunic: 5/10
From the team’s perspective, Krunic seemed like the weak link. He failed to spark anything in the attacking third. Yet, his game did not include any glaring mistakes.
Alexis Saelemaekers: 4.5/10
Saelemaekers was in his usual stride, working hard for the team. However, the typical flaws still existed as his execution remains poor in the final third.
Brahim Diaz: 5/10
Milan’s creative hub found it difficult to break away from Atletico’s defenders. The opposition backline thought it best to foul him whenever he was trying to influence the game.
Olivier Giroud: 4.5/10
As attacking chances came at a premium, Giroud was left isolated for most parts. Situations like these do not bode well with the image a striker can portray, often looking anonymous.
Tiemoue Bakayoko: 3/10
Much like Cunha, Bakayoko missed a golden opportunity to score. Luckily for him, it did not matter in the end as Milan won the game eventually.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: 6/10
The big Swede changed the complexion of the game after coming on. Ibrahimovic forced Oblak into making a couple of good saves and might have even scored the winner.
Junior Messias: 7/10
The incredible story of Junior Messias, AC Milan hero tonight. 🔴🇧🇷
Three years ago he was in Italian 4th division.
He used to deliver refrigerators and other household appliances whilst playing at the amateur level.
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) November 24, 2021
Ideally, he should have had the highest rating in the game for his goal, which won Milan the clash and kept their hopes of progression alive.
Alessandro Florenzi: 5/10
Florenzi came on late in the game to keep the defence tight.
Ismael Bennacer: N/A
Bennacer was sent on to shore up the midfield and keep things tight as Milan protected their lead.