Rafael Leao and Theo Hernandez led AC Milan to a 2-0 win over Atalanta, taking them to within one win of the Serie A title.
AC Milan have something special brewing on their left flank as Rafael Leao and Theo Hernandez combined to great effect to put Atalanta to the sword and take the Rossoneri to within one win of the Serie A title.
Stefano Pioli’s men have gone into the final two games of their season knowing well that there is no margin for error. Little of any uncertainty was on show at San Siro as the home side went in all guns blazing. In what was an open game, as both sides had the chances, although only one team took theirs.
Any nerves that existed at San Siro at half-time were extinguished in the 56th minute when Leao put the home side ahead. The goal was capped off by a wonderful move that saw Pierre Kalulu win possession in his own half and Junior Messias making a sublime pass to Leao, who beat his marker to thump in the opener.
83 – AC Milan have picked up 83 points so far in the current Serie A season, only in 2005/06 (88) did they do better in a single campaign in the three points for a win era (excl. penalizations). Thrill.#MilanAtalanta pic.twitter.com/MeUxCooAaD
— OptaPaolo 🏆 (@OptaPaolo) May 15, 2022
Perhaps not to be outdone by his partner in crime on the left, Hernandez produced a sublime individual effort in the 75th minute to put the result beyond doubt. The Frenchman carried the ball all the way from his own penalty area and only parted with it to thump it into the Atalanta goal.
With just one more game to go, Milan are assured of heading into the final week at the top of the Serie A summit. As long as they defeat Sassuolo next weekend, the Scudetto will be heading back to AC Milan. For now, just half of the job is done. The Hard Tackle rates how the Milan players performed on the night.
Mike Maignan: 6/10
The Frenchman had little to do as Atalanta managed just two shots on target all night. Maignan remained alert despite his side’s two-goal cushion and did well to deny Duvan Zapata a late consolation goal. Maignan was also impressive with his build-up play, as he started moves from the back.
Theo Hernandez: 7/10
The Frenchman struggled to impose himself in the opening minutes of the game but improved as the match wore on. His stunning goal in the 75th minute could prove pivotal in the Serie A title race. Hernandez has formed an excellent understanding with Leao on the left-hand side and could lay the cornerstone for Milan’s spine for years to come.
— AC Milan (@acmilan) May 15, 2022
Pierre Kalulu: 8/10
An excellent outing for the youngster who is increasingly growing into the role as a starter for AC Milan. His ability to read the game, positioning and even recovery runs were all top-notch. Kalulu’s partnership with Tomori could blossom into something special for the Rossoneri.
Fikayo Tomori: 7.5/10
The Englishman is Milan’s leader at the back and was unshakeable on the night. He responded well to anything thrown at him with minimal fuss, keeping Atalanta’s attackers at bay. He is increasingly growing as a major influence in the AC Milan squad.
Davide Calabria: 7/10
Not the best night out for the defender, who has been one of Milan’s best players this season. However, he did not make any unforced errors and was decent at best. It is fair to say that he failed to make any marauding runs upfield.
Sandro Tonali: 6/10
The Italian international was the hero for Milan last weekend against Hellas Verona, scoring two goals in the 3-1 win. While it is admittedly difficult to expect him to perform at the same level every game, Tonali was still neat on the ball and showed his impressive passing range. It was a solid yet unspectacular performance from the youngster.
Franck Kessie: 6/10
The Ivorian used his physicality to good effect and helped stop Atalanta’s forward forays in their tracks. He communicated well with Tonali and helped Milan win the midfield battle. Kessie looks to be on his way out of the club this summer and put in a good showing in what could be his last outing at San Siro.
📊| Franck Kessié in Milan's crucial game vs Atalanta.
• 63 Touches.
• 41/47 Passes.
• 2 Long Balls.
• 2 Dribbles.
• 4 Tackles. (Most)
• Only 1 Dispossessed.
• 1 Clearance.
• 1 Interception.
• 8/15 Duels Won.
• 3/5 Aerials Won.
• 8 Ball Recoveries.
• 3 Fouls.
— Barça Buzz (@Barca_Buzz) May 15, 2022
Alexis Saelemaekers: 6/10
The Belgian has certainly improved his performances in recent weeks but lacks the ability to supply the final product. Saelemaekers was immaculate in his defensive contributions and gave Atalanta no joy on the right flank. He was taken off for the electric Messias in the 55th minute.
Rade Krunic: 6/10
Krunic stepped up when needed for Milan and linked up well with Leao on the night. He also made the tackle that paved the way for Hernandez’s wonder goal. He was replaced by Tiemoue Bakayoko in the 79th minute as Milan looked to see the game out.
Rafael Leao: 8/10
The Portuguese winger continues to be Milan’s brightest attacking flame. He settled the home side’s nerves by opening the scoring in the 55th minute. Leao was an electric presence on the left and linked up well with Hernandez and Krunic. It is proving to be a breakout season for the 22-year-old, who will only get better with time. Perhaps importantly, he also avoided a yellow card that would have ruled him out of the game against Sassuolo.
3 – Rafael Leão has found the net in three consecutive appearances at San Siro for his first time in Serie A. Heat.#MilanAtalanta
— OptaPaolo 🏆 (@OptaPaolo) May 15, 2022
Olivier Giroud: 4/10
The veteran’s poor form continued on Sunday, and he never quite got into the game. Apart from securing a yellow card, Giroud did precious little. It came as no surprise that was hooked early for Ante Rebic.
Junior Messias: 7/10
The Brazilian made an instant impact off the bench and within a minute, he had already aided Leao for the opener. He was an improvement over Saelemaekers and caused Atalanta some problems with his direct approach.
Ante Rebic: 6/10
The Croat replaced the ineffective Giroud and put in a hard night’s shift. Rebic made several runs behind the Atalanta defence and should have done better to find the back of the net. He looks to be an improvement over the woefully out of form Giroud and could be in contention to start against Sassuolo.
Ismael Bennacer: 6/10
Bennacer’s arrival helped calm matters in midfield and enabled Milan to see out the game. He kept things simple and did what was asked of him with minimal fuss.
Tiemoue Bakayoko: 6/10
The Chelsea loanee is the forgotten man, and his introduction was nothing short of a surprise. Bakayoko, to his credit, did well to stymie Atalanta’s attacks and was largely unruffled on the night.
Alessandro Florenzi: 6/10
The veteran was brought on to see out the game, and he did just that. A vocal player, Florenzi made life easier for those around him and kept things simple.