AC Milan secured their first UEFA Champions League win this season after beating Dinamo Zagreb comfortably at San Siro on Wednesday.
AC Milan secured their first UEFA Champions League win of this campaign and in a long time after beating Dinamo Zagreb with ease at San Siro. Goals from Olivier Giroud, Alexis Saelemaekers and Tommaso Pobega sealed the victory, which somewhat gives them an upper hand in the group considering Chelsea only drew their clash with RB Salzburg.
Milan began dominantly and had a few chances to get the opener. Instead, they missed their opportunities to go ahead, with Rafael Leao squandering a particularly good moment. The breakthrough came when the Portuguese international was fouled inside the box at the stroke of halftime, with Giroud dispatching the spot kick with ease.
Milan flew out of the blocks after the break, and soon Alexis Saelemaekers doubled the advantage with a header, after more good work from Leao. However, after that strike, Dinamo Zagreb began their offensive and showed the grit that saw them gain victory over Chelsea in the last matchday.
Their efforts bore fruits as Mislav Orsic pulled one goal back in the 56th minute after being set up by Bruno Petkovic. After that, Milan got a foothold in the game and continued to resist any more efforts from the away side, scoring in the 78th minute.
— AC Milan (@acmilan) September 14, 2022
Substitute, Tommaso Pobega combined well with Theo Hernandez to finish off the move and effectively end any lingering hopes Zagreb might have had. After that, the game ended in Milan’s favour as the home side could see through it without much pressure, particularly after the third goal.
Mike Maignan: 6/10
Maignan continued to put in good showings in goal, as his control of the ball keeps improving with each passing game. Against Zagreb, he did not have much to do with the visitors, only managing three shots on targets, although unfortunately, the one goal could not have been saved.
Davide Calabria: 6/10
Calabria had good moments during the game as he often found space to attack the ball and help final third actions. However, he will be disappointed after getting beaten for the Zagreb strike, but otherwise, he will be content with his performance.
Pierre Kalulu: 7/10
Kalulu was imperative in holding Milan’s defensive line and won plenty of duels against Zagreb attackers. Moreover, the young defender could move the ball forward but remained conservative in his attacking approaches.
Fikayo Tomori: 7/10
Tomori was much more aggressive than his centre-back partner and proved a tough man to beat for Zagreb attackers. He was instrumental in creating the penalty, with a hopeful ball for Leao.
Theo Hernandez: 7/10
Apart from the fact that Hernandez got the assist for the third goal after some good link-up play with Pobega, the left-back has visibly improved his defensive work. That part had flaws last season, but this game and many others in this campaign prove his progress.
Ismael Bennacer: 6.5/10
Ismaël Bennacer's game by numbers vs. Dinamo Zagreb:
106 touches (most)
16 passes into final ⅓ (most)
7 duels won
7 ball recoveries
5 passes into the opp. box
5 tackles made (most)
2 chances created
2 aerial duels won
— Squawka (@Squawka) September 14, 2022
Bennacer ran the show in midfield, wielding good control of the proceedings and ensuring Milan always had an advantage in the area. Milan’s dynamics changed once he was subbed off, which showed his influence on the pitch.
Sandro Tonali: 6/10
Tonali did not have the influence one might have expected of him but still managed to get the job done in the midfield. The Italian international was afforded a free role in the side to work the three-man backline set up by Dinamo Zagreb and did considerably well.
Alexis Saelemaekers: 7/10
— Squawka (@Squawka) September 14, 2022
Hard-working as ever, Saelemaekers caused plenty of problems from the right flank. His goal in the second half was his reward, as he continues to perform impressively this season.
Brahim Diaz: 6/10
Diaz was deployed in the advanced midfield role for this game and did his job well despite losing many duels and misplacing multiple passes. Diaz was involved plenty in defensive work, but the formation did not work as it looked on paper.
Rafael Leao: 8/10
Leao produced a solid display, and he continues to prove to be AC Milan’s leading man this season. He won the penalty for the opening goal and then assisted Saelemaekers for the second strike, capping off another terrific performance.
Rafael Leão’s game by numbers vs. Dinamo Zagreb:
6/10 ground duels won
2 dribbles completed
2/2 long balls completed
1 key pass
1 big chance created
1 penalty won
Caused the Dinamo Zagreb defenders all sorts of problems. 💫 pic.twitter.com/HaHiocMivM
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) September 14, 2022
Olivier Giroud: 6.5/10
Giroud is becoming a key part of this Milan side and continues to shine in the absence of other strikers. The Frenchman scored a goal from the spot and thrived on making space for others to operate around him.
Tommaso Pobega: 7/10
Pobega was sent on as a high-quality substitute capable of taking different positions and playing many roles. He did more and also scored the third goal for AC Milan, which effectively ended any hopes for Dinamo Zagreb.
Charles De Ketelaere: 6/10
It was surprising not to see De Ketelaere on the team sheet, but he had a decent cameo off the bench. He was active during the game but could not create much despite his big presence in the final third.
Junior Messias: N/A
Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Rade Krunic: N/A
After being an injury doubt before the game, the minutes were purely designed to give a fitness run to Krunic.