Milan actually won a game on Sunday night against a team higher in the standings. Like, scored more goals than the opposition, and won a game.
I know right, unheard of! Anyway, Carlos Bacca opened the scoring with a beautifully taken chance in the first half, and then Kevin-Prince Boateng welcomed himself back to San Siro with a calmly taken goal.
It was an uncharacteristically organised performance from the side and a welcome win to put us three points behind Roma in fifth place.
So, with that said, just what did we learn from a decisive night and a much needed victory?
1. Looking the part
As already mentioned, it was a good showing from the side and one in which the team never looked extremely threatened and always maintained a sense of control.
Part of that is down to the exploits of Alex and Alessio Romagnoli, who once again put in a wonderful shift between them to safeguard the Milan goal. They have performed together well almost every time they have been partnered, and I see no reason to break them up.
In general, the team worked really hard. There was tracking back, the tackling was good, the back four and midfield held a nice line and the forwards ate up space fairly well.
It wasn’t perfect. There was times when we were pushed back and the outlet passes were just hoofs upfield, but all in all it was a game the team and coach Mihajlovic can be proud of.
2. Silencing the doubters
Special mentions must go to Riccardo Montolivo (happy birthday to the captain, also) and Keisuke Honda, who were good all night in my opinion.
It was a performance from Montolivo that demonstrates what he can be good at. He sat deep, anticipated well, broke up play and transformed the Rossoneri into attack with some very good long passes.
Crucial for his confidence, we need to see more of the same from the captain. I for one was surprised to see him start over Kucka, but on reflection it was the right choice.
In addition to this, Honda was very good on the right side. He always gets into action areas of the pitch; be it in the final third or tracking back to help Ignazio Abate.
Again, the team needs a Honda like this on a consistent basis. Milan benefit from it hugely.
3. Welcome home
A better script could not have been written for Kevin-Prince Boateng.
His return to the club has certainly divided opinion. Some say it shows a lack of ambition, others say it is a low risk deal that can only help the team. One thing is for sure: since he has come back he has shown willingness to work hard in a Rossoneri shirt.
KPB is a very dynamic player, i.e. there always seems to be something happening when he is around the ball. We all remember Tiziano Crudeli screaming “BOA BOA TENG TENG TENG” when he single-handedly brought Milan back from a 3-0 deficit at Lecce in 2011.
Yesterday’s goal was very important. Hopefully a sign of change for Boa, and a sign also that Milan was right to take a chance and bring him back to the club. More of the same please Prince.
4. More praise
A player who doesn’t really see the forefront of praise is Luca Antonelli.
He has ended up in the team of the week after another solid display last night. He runs the left side so well and does so on a consistent basis. His defensive ability is fantastic and his positional awareness allows Milan to be more adventurous on that side through Bonaventura.
Without question he is the best full-back we have, and should have that starting spot nailed down for some time to come.
Furthermore, Andrea Bertolacci had a good game. He and Monto covered a lot of ground in the middle of the pitch and Berto played some crucial passes too to keep the offensive game moving.
And another clean sheet for our teen sensation Gianluigi Donnarumma leaves an altogether sweet taste in the mouth.
5. Moving on
Like I have done after a lot of wins, I will again drill home the importance of putting in this kind of performance on a more consistent basis.
We did not blow Fiorentina away by any means. In fact, the game was fairly even but for two moments of quality, and that is what matters.
The Milan of old found ways to win when not bossing matches. That was exactly what last night was. On our night we have the quality to beat most teams in the division, and La Viola are one of the better sides without doubt.
So much more organised than the first game of the season, the team must now kick on and beat Empoli for the second time this season to keep up the pressure on the top five. With the faltering form of Roma et al, Milan absolutely aren’t out of anything but the Scudetto yet.
So, that’s what I took from a fantastic and enjoyable match.
Two great goals, solid at the back and everybody running their hearts out: exactly how it should be.
Now, we move on, and see if the team can put together those elusive two straight good games ahead of the Derby against Inter (which I will be attending).
Onwards and upwards!
Article by Oliver Fisher