Rafael Leao and Alexis Saelemaekers came off the bench to help AC Milan see off Genoa in extra time in their Coppa Italia clash at San Siro.

AC Milan tried to mess up what appeared to be a routine win against Serie A strugglers Genoa in their Coppa Italia Round of 16 clash. In the end, substitutes Rafael Leao and Alexis Saelemaekers came off the bench to make the difference in extra time.

Currently managed by former AC Milan star and club legend Andriy Shevchenko, Genoa took a surprise lead on the night thanks to Leo Skiri Ostigard in the 17th minute. Milan enjoyed the lion’s share of the possession and crafted more chances but had to wait until the 74th minute to draw level courtesy of Olivier Giroud.

With neither side able to seize the game in 90 minutes, extra time beckoned. Thankfully for the home side, they were able to bring on impactful subs to swing the pendulum in their favour. Leao was the man to give Milan the lead as his floated cross-shot went in off the crossbar. Fellow substitute, Saelemaekers secured the result in the 112th minute after he finished off an excellent cut-back by Theo Hernandez.

In the end, Milan got their win. But they will need to do much better if they are keen on going all the way in the competition. For Shevchenko, it is now two defeats in two games at his old hunting ground in two months. However, he can be pleased that Genoa showed more bite this time around. The Hard Tackle looks at how the Milan players fared on the night.

Mike Maignan: 6/10

The Frenchman made a few good stops on the night and could have done nothing to prevent Genoa’s opener. There was a nervy moment where he missed a corner, but Genoa could not make their advantage count. He did not have much to do otherwise.

Pierre Kalulu: 6/10

Kalulu started the night at right-back but shifted into a central role following Fikayo Tomori’s injury. He put in a solid display and was largely dependable given the circumstances.

Matteo Gabbia: 6/10

The 22-year-old had to play a more proactive role following Tomori’s substitution and, to his credit, he rose to the challenge well. He formed a good partnership with Kalulu as the duo faced what Genoa threw at them head-on. They were not tested much apart from the move building up to the opener.

Fikayo Tomori: N/A

The Englishman was taken off in the 24th minute with an injury. Having already lost Simon Kjaer, Milan will hope that Tomori’s setback is not serious.

Theo Hernandez: 6/10

The Frenchman was decent going forward but looked out of sorts at the back. Hernandez lost his man for Genoa’s opener and looked shaky in the defensive phases. He did, however, channel his best for offensive actions and produced two assists on the night.

Rade Krunic: 4/10

The Bosnian midfielder looked out of ideas and out of sorts on the night. He barely got going in an extremely sloppy first half at San Siro. It was no surprise when he was taken off after the hour mark.

Sandro Tonali: 6/10

The Italian was Milan’s senior-most midfielder on the night, and it showed. He kept the play ticking and exuded calmness in the middle of the park. The very fact that Milan found a foothold in the midfield and could exert their influence as the game went on was thanks to him. He did, however, earn himself a yellow card for a poor tackle on Johan Vasquez.

Junior Messias: 4/10

The Brazilian endured a difficult night where nothing he tried came off. Messias could not beat his man and saw several attempts to dribble end up nowhere. He faces a real fight on his hands to hold onto the starting spot should he fail to improve.

Daniel Maldini: 5/10

The prodigal son was not short of effort or heart and did his best to get things rolling. It can be argued that his overenthusiasm often curved his good intentions. He improved in the second half, but it did little good, and he was taken off for Brahim Diaz in the 62nd minute.

Ante Rebic: 5/10

The Croat huffed and puffed without any end product. He made several good runs, but it never really led anywhere. His lack of impact on the game became more apparent after Leao came on and made the difference on the left flank.

Olivier Giroud: 6/10

The French international was easily the best of Milan’s starters on the night. He turned up when his side needed him and found the back of the net in the 74th minute to send the game to extra time. While he can certainly do better, Giroud remains a dependable player even at his advanced age.

SUBSTITUTES

Alessandro Florenzi: 6/10

The veteran Italian utility man was brought on in the 24th minute following Tomori’s injury. He provided a reliable outlet on the right flank, and his injection of energy and drive was a welcome addition.

Tiemoue Bakayoko: 6/10

Bakayoko has not always impressed during his Milan stint, but he was an upgrade over the disappointing Krunic on the night. While the former AS Monaco man did not particularly stand out, he did add stability in the middle of the pitch alongside Tonali.

Rafael Leao: 8/10

Easily Milan’s best player in the match. Leao made a significant difference on the left, and Genoa found it difficult to go toe to toe against him. He broke the deadlock in the 102nd minute with what can be classified as a mishit cross or a well-hit strike. Either way, he was the difference-maker on the night.

Brahim Diaz: 5.5/10

The Spaniard replaced the ineffective Maldini but offered little better. He had his moments but was just unable to drive it home. Diaz missed a splendid opportunity to get his name on the scoresheet late in extra time.

Alexis Saelemaekers: 6/10

The Belgian was another player who came on and provided Milan with a boost on the wings. He missed an early opportunity to score but made no mistake when Hernandez cut back the ball towards him in the 112h minute. He could also have had an assist to his name had Diaz scored. It will not come as a surprise if he replaces Messias in the starting lineup for Milan’s next game.

Emil Roback: N/A

The 18-year-old Swede made his debut for the Rossoneri on the night and was afforded a few minutes in the end.

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