Croatian attacker Ante Rebic was the star of the show as AC Milan began their Serie A title defence with a thrilling 4-2 win over Udinese.

AC Milan came out on top in the opening game of the Serie A season against a determined Udinese side that gave a good account of themselves.

Stefano Pioli’s side were given an early wake-up call when Rodrigo Becao put the visitors ahead in the second minute. Udinese’s lead did not last long as Davide Calabria won a penalty in the 11th minute. Theo Hernandez stepped up without any hesitation and drew the Rossoneri level from the spot.

Ante Rebic found the back of the net four minutes later to flip the game on its head and hand Milan the advantage. Udinese fought their way back into the game, but second-half goals from Brahim Diaz and Rebic secured Milan all three points on the night.

While it was a far from a vintage performance from the Rossoneri, several players looked sharp and got better as the game went on. The ability to fight back and secure a win on the night once again illustrates the newfound solidity in the team’s spirit.

Summer recruits Charles De Ketelaere and Divock Origi both came on in the second half for their first taste of Serie A action. Milan appear to have better strength in depth this season and as long as the players pull their weight, they are likely to be involved in the Scudetto title race.ย For now, they can celebrate a job well done. The Hard Tackle looks at how the Milan stars performed on the night.

Mike Maignan: 6/10

The Frenchman can hardly be blamed for either goal as he was let down by the players ahead of him. Maignan kept things solid otherwise and was on hand to do his job on the night. The Milan goalkeeper had little to do otherwise and was at hand to make several regulation saves.

Theo Hernandez: 7/10

Hernandez was offered little protection by Rafael Leao on the night but held his own well in defence. He showed great composure from the penalty spot to draw the home side level early on and was a menace going forward on the left flank.

Fikayo Tomori: 6/10

The former Chelsea man was not as solid as he would have liked to be and played rather high up the pitch. Despite being caught out of position a few times, he made several interceptions and did not make any major errors. There is more to come from the Englishman, and he is capable of much more than what he displayed on the night.

Pierre Kalulu: 6.5/10

Kalulu was Milan’s best centre-back of the night and was largely solid. His recovery pace got him out of a couple of difficult situations unscathed and helped him keep up with Udinese’s attackers. He showed nerves of steel to keep his calm in a two-on-one situation that eventually ended in Milan’s favour.

Davide Calabria: 6/10

It was a Jekyll and Hyde performance from the right-back who heavily misplaced passes on the night and was caught out of position several times. Calabria was better going forward and not just won the penalty that helped draw Milan level but also provided the assist for their second goal.

Rade Krunic: 6/10

Krunic had the job of replacing Sandro Tonali on the night and largely did his job. He used his physicality to great effect and did not shy away from physical duels. While the performance was not silky, it had enough grit to help Milan win the midfield battle after the break. Krunic also earned himself a yellow card for his troubles.

Ismael Bennacer: 6/10

It was a solid if uninspiring outing by Bennacer who did not look up for the game. His rating is largely influenced by a string of good passes he made towards the end of the game. Little to write home otherwise.

Rafael Leao: 6/10

It was an underwhelming start to the Serie A season by last year’s MVP. Leao had a poor outing that saw him struggle to make an impact up top while also failing to support Hernandez defensively. The Portuguese international did grab himself an assist that added a little gloss to his otherwise frustrating night.

Brahim Diaz: 8/10

The young Spaniard has often proven to be an inconsistent performer and now has Charles De Ketelaere breathing down his neck. Diaz took his opportunity well on the night and linked the midfield to the attack with great impact.

He made a driving run to score Milan’s third on the night and also got an assist for Rebic’s second goal. If his performance on the night is anything to go by, Milan might not miss Kessie, especially in the attacking midfielder’s role. The youngster made way for De Ketelaere in the 71st minute.

Junior Messias:5/10

A forgettable evening for the Brazilian who should be doing much better. He went missing for Udinese’s second goal and left his side high and dry. Unless the performances pick up, Pioli is better off putting his faith in Alexis Saelemaekers instead.

Ante Rebic: 8/10

The 28-year-old led the line with authority in the absence of Oliver Giroud and repaid Stefano Pioli’s faith in him by bagging two goals on the night. Rebic linked up well with the attacking midfielders behind him.

A constant menace to the Udinese defence, his second goal in the 68th minute more or less settled the tie on the night. He was eventually taken off midway through the second half, denying him an opportunity for an opening day hat-trick.

SUBSTITUTES

Charles De Ketelaere: 6/10

It was a promising debut for the youngster who nearly got himself a debut goal. De Ketelaere showed glimpses of his vision and passing range on the night. The Belgian international did not look out of place and could be in for a season to remember at San Siro.

Alexis Saelemaekers: 6/10

The Belgian international was an improvement on Messias, but his decision-making was poor. He opted to shoot wide rather than pass to Divock Origi late on.

Oliver Giroud: 6/10

The French veteran came off the bench and held the ball up well. Did not do anything spectacular but always made himself available for a pass. Eager but lacked the impact to make a difference.

Divock Origi: N/A

The last time the Belgian international stepped onto the San Siro pitch in a competitive game, he grabbed the winner for Liverpool. His introduction on the night was far less dramatic as the Milan striker got his first taste of Serie A action. He could have even gotten on the scoresheet had Saelemaekers opted to pass rather than shoot himself.

Tommaso Pobega: N/A

It was a late debut for the 23-year-old, who came on for Krunic in the 84th minute. With the game all but settled, he did not particularly have much to do.

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