Goals from Rafael Leao and Olivier Giroud helped AC Milan to get back to winning ways as they defeated Bologna 2-0 at San Siro to move to the top of Serie A.

After last week’s 1-1 draw against Atalanta in Bergamo, defending champions AC Milan returned to winning ways as they ran out 2-0 winners against Bologna in Serie A in what was a very comfortable evening at San Siro for Stefano Pioli’s troops.

Milan made a steady start to the game, and it was an untroubled evening for their defence, which did not allow their opponents a single shot on goal. The Rossoneri did a good job of rushing the opponents with their press and forcing them to give away the ball cheaply while playing out from the back.

That was evident when the visitors were carved open in the 21st minute. Charles De Ketelaere picked up the ball in midfield after pinching the ball off an opponent, and he drove towards the Bologna defence. Rafael Leao latched onto the Belgian playmaker’s through pass to finish well from close range with his right foot, beyond Bologna goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski to get off the mark with his first goal of the season.

There were loads of quick transitions with overloads on the flanks and down the middle. Bologna were toothless in attack, and that helped Milan control possession for long periods. The Rossoneri doubled their lead thirteen minutes into the second period when Leao became the supplier. The winger chipped a lovely ball into the area, where Olivier Giroud met it on the run with a flying volley past the Bologna keeper.

Milan are still unbeaten after three Serie A games in the new season, extending their stellar streak that started last season to 19 unbeaten top-flight matches, the longest ongoing undefeated run in the Europe’s top five leagues.

They are now at the top of the pile in Serie A and will look to continue their strong form when they travel to Sassuolo on Tuesday, followed by a derby against Inter the following weekend. In the meantime, The Hard Tackle will now run the rule over Stefano Pioli’s men as a host of players turned in top performances.

Mike Maignan: 6.5/10

The Frenchman certainly did not have much to do here, but he was able to show his quality with the distribution, as Milan tried to lay siege to the Bologna goal. He was never really called into action as the visitors could not muster a single shot on target.

Davide Calabria: 6/10

The AC Milan skipper carried out the defensive duties well enough and defended well against the ever-bright young Andrea Cambiaso, but he did not do much on the offensive side of the game and was quite sloppy in possession.

Pierre Kalulu: 7.5/10

Another very composed display from the youngster, who continues to be a proactive defender at the back. He won all of his duels on the night (7/7) and made 3 tackles and 2 interceptions as he well and truly deserved a clean sheet. He almost got on the scoresheet with an effort that was saved by the Bologna keeper and also bullied the visitors’ attack. If Kalulu keeps performing like that, Milan won’t need another central defender this summer.

Fikayo Tomori: 6.5/10

Tomori was solid at the back and marshalled Marko Arnautovic, who was unable to create many shooting opportunities for himself. The Englishman made crucial clearances and was good in the air. He would have gotten a higher rating had it not been for a rash challenge on Nicola Sansone in the box late in the game that perhaps should have resulted in a penalty for Bologna. Otherwise, he was as steady as ever.

Theo Hernandez: 7/10

Another flawless display from Hernandez, who is delivering high-quality performances on a consistent basis nowadays. His distribution was good, his defensive contribution was crucial, and offensively, he was causing the opposition backline problems, combining with Leao to exploit the ample space down the left channel. He made five tackles and bombed down the left flank at every opportunity.

Sandro Tonali: 6.5/10

A robust display from Tonali helped Milan control the game in the middle of the park. The Italian midfielder drew smart fouls with quick thinking. He was also active in the attacking phase, making three key passes and completing all four of his long balls. There were some sloppy challenges, and he lacked the incisive through pass that would have cut open Bologna’s backline, but it was a good performance overall.

Ismael Bennacer: 7/10

Bennacer was considerably quieter against Bologna after his top-notch attacking performance in Bergamo. Still, the Algerian was the engine in the middle of the park. He won several tackles, completed a high percentage of his passes, and was almost always available when his teammates needed to find a solution. His ability to dribble out of tight situations really helps the Rossoneri.

Charles De Ketelaere: 8/10

De Ketelaere was another to impress against the Rossoblu, with the Belgian midfielder creating the opener for Leao after winning the ball back in midfield from Schouten and instantly driving forward with the ball before teeing up his teammate for a calm 1v1 finish.

The rising Belgian star also laid on a game-high four chances, won most of his attempted duels (5/7), and completed all of his dribbles (3/3).

Junior Messias: 5.5/10

Messias had a few good moments with the ball and looked more in place this time out. But ultimately, he did not have a huge impact. He came close with an effort that was parried away by Skorupski. He helped the team in defence with constant pressing and ran his socks off, but he needs to produce more in attack.

Rafael Leao: 8.5/10

The “Player to Watch” in our preview, Leao responded to the recent criticism in style, grabbing a goal and an assist. The 23-year-old Portuguese attacker looked back to his best for Milan on the night after two opening games where he did not look at his full flow, and he showed exactly why he is one of the most sought-after attackers in Europe amid Chelsea rumours.

The AC Milan talisman worked effectively with De Ketelaere and netted an easy point-blank goal that took a lucky deflection to put his team ahead before laying it on the plate for Giroud’s goal with a wonderful, exquisite cross. In total, Leao had a 92 per cent pass completion rate, created three key passes, and took two shots on target, while his skill and pace were a menace to Bologna’s frail defence.

Olivier Giroud: 8/10

Giroud fought hard throughout the game to carve out his shots and have chances but did not have many openings as such. He provided important hold-up play and was a nuisance to the opposition with his physical presence up top, which helped his teammates find space and create more danger. The former Chelsea striker used his experience to great effect by putting just the right amount of effort into his volley to grab his classic Giroud goal.

SUBSTITUTES

Yacine Adli: 5/10

Adli came within inches of scoring at the end of the game when he met a deep cross at the far post, but Skorupski stopped his effort on the line. Otherwise, he battled to influence the game and was booked for a reckless challenge late in the game.

Alexis Saelemaekers: 6.5/10

The Belgian replaced his fellow countryman De Ketelaere around the hour mark and showed a lot of energy and determination to push Milan forward and maintain dominance. He also displayed the gritty side of his game, making two tackles. He should start the next game ahead of the underperforming Saelemaekers.

Tommaso Pobega: 6/10

Pobega was handed a solid 30 minutes on his second outing after a successful loan spell at Torino, and he looked better than in his last appearance against Udinese.

Matteo Gabbia: N/A

Did not play enough to warrant a rating.

Fode Ballo-Toure: N/A

Did not play enough to warrant a rating.

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