Marco Giampaolo debuted at San Siro with a win as Milan beat a solid Brescia side 1-0 on Saturday afternoon. A lone goal by Turkish midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu after 12 minutes saved the day for the Rossoneri’s new coach after his shocking first match lost in Udine.
However, the way ahead is still long for the Milanese side before they can think of achieving something more than a fourth place in the table – and that would already be an improvement versus the last five seasons.
Milan took the lead at first try, still failed to produce any other scoring chance until the final stages of the game, when a convulsed flurry of attacks produced three-four more clear scoring attempts which at least legitimized their win.
Giampaolo scrapped his previous 4-3-1-2 module for a “Christmas tree” lineup, a 4-3-2-1 where Ismael Bennacer replaced Lucas Paqueta’ in midfield, and Suso was placed together with Hakan Calhanoglu to support the only striker – whom ended up being Andre’ Silva.
The returning Portuguese, whom the Rossoneri have been trying to get rid of for the whole transfer market session, was surprisingly preferred by Giampaolo to Krzysztof Piatek. The Pistolero eventually made it to the pitch in the 60th minute, but the closest he saw the ball until the very last minutes was when it hit his nose and made him bleed.
On the Brescia side, coach Eugenio Corini recovered striker Ernesto Torregrossa, the Sicilian forward taking back his place next to Alfredo Donnarumma to reconstitute the stunning striking pair that has brought the Rondinelle back to Serie A after eight seasons. Still no chance to see newcomer Mario Balotelli, who served the second of the four-match ban he inherited from his last stint with Olympique Marseille.
Calhanoglu’s opener came in the 12th minute, as Suso fired a cross almost from the end line, and found the Turkish’s powerful header to beat Brescia’s goalkeeper Jesse Joronen. The visitors reacted fast, and young defender Andrea Cistana missed an easy tap-in from point-blank range, as he caught a shot by Stefano Sabelli that had made it past Milan’s defensive line.
Andre’ Silva’s answer to that was a perfectly-timed catching of a long-range pass by Suso (the most proactive among the Rossoneri lines). The former Sevilla striker did everything well, but his shot missed the target by a few inches only.
Milan’s keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma appeared hesitant in multiple occasions while using his feet – that’s one of his well-known weak points – but fully redeemed himself in the 38th minute, when flew to parry back a shot by Stefano Sabelli which had been dangerously deflected by the Rossoneri’s defense.
Florian Aye replaced a limping Ernesto Torregrossa at half time, forcing coach Corini to operate his second substitution due to an injury. He had already lost experienced defender Bruno Martella after just 15 minutes. His colleague Giampaolo, on the other hand, had the luxury of deciding when to make his changes: He sent in Krzysztof Piatek in the 60th minute, pulling out an Andre’ Silva whose performance was encouraging, then gave the stage to Lucas Paqueta’, replacing match-winner Hakan Calhanoglu.
Brescia’s 19-year-old Sandro Tonali fired an insidious free-kick in the 71st minute, reminding the attendance why some are daring to compare him to Andrea Pirlo – who also started his career with the Biancoazzurri. Yet, that was the only spark from the Italian Under-21 jewel today.
The Rondinelle were more dangerous a few minutes later, when Gigio Donnarumma had to clear the ball from his box, anticipating his Brescia’s namesake, and then Davide Calabria blocked with his body a subsequent conclusion by Daniele Dessena.
Fabio Borini replaced a non-existent Samu Castillejo, then the last minutes turned into a siege by Milan that exalted Brescia’s brand-new goalie Jesse Joronen. The Finnish portiere closed the door three times to a suddenly waken-up Krzysztof Piatek, the last with the help of the goal line technology which saw him clearing the ball before it could fully cross the line.
Lucas Paqueta’ stepped in the battle between the two in the 88th minute, whipping the ball at Brescia’s goal, but finding Joronen’s left post on his way. Perhaps Milan would have deserved a second goal, but at least Marco Giampaolo can sleep a little tighter tonight, and until the next away match in Verona.
Brescia confirmed to be a tough cookie to handle, with good chances to avoid relegation. When Mario Balotelli finally joins their lines, it will be an even different story.
August 31, 2019 – Serie A 2019-2020 Round 2
SCORERS: 12′ Calhanoglu
|MILAN (4-3-2-1): G. Donnarumma; Calabria, Musacchio, Romagnoli, Rodriguez; Kessie, Calhanoglu (65′ Paquetà), Bennacer; Suso, Castillejo (80′ Borini); Andrè Silva (60′ Piatek) (An. Donnarumma, Reina, Soncin, Conti, Duarte, Gabbia, Bonaventura, Krunic, Rafael Leao) Coach: Giampaolo|
|BRESCIA (4-3-1-2): Joronen; Sabelli, Chancellor, Cistana, Martella (14′ Mateju); Tonali, Bisoli, Dessena; Spalek (76′ Tremolada); Al. Donnarumma, Torregrossa (46′ Ayè) (Alfonso, Gastaldello, Mangraviti, Zmrhal, Morosini) Coach: Corini|
REFEREE: Mr. Abisso from Palermo
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Calabria, Calhanoglu, Andre’ Silva (M), Cistana, Bisoli, Dessena, Tonali (B); Extra Time: 1st Half 1′, 2nd Half 4′