Milan Come Back to Winning Ways as Calha and Theo Sink Benevento

Goals from Hakan Calhanoglu and Theo Hernandez put a smile back on Stefano Pioli’s face on Saturday night and made Benevento’s situation overly precarious. Milan beat the Giallorossi 2-0 in Serie A Round 33 to temporarily regain the second spot in the table as they wait for direct contenders for a Champions League spot – Atalanta, Juventus, and Napoli – to play tomorrow. 

After two losses in a row, the Rossoneri were lucky enough to find on their way a team that, if possible, has been struggling even more than them over the past few weeks. Simone Inzaghi’s Benevento seemed comfortably far from the relegation battle only a couple of months ago but have been steadily got sucked into the dogfight week after week. 

Based on what seen tonight, the Streghe will have to fight until the end to preserve their Serie A status as they never seemed able to seriously trouble the Rossoneri – who were helped by the return of some of their talismanic players. 

Simon Kjaer’s absence gave Alessio Romagnoli the chance to came back in the middle of the defense as a starter, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic recovered his starting spot in attack.

Benevento’s hopes were all in former Rossonero Gianluca Lapadula, who left the front line for the Streghe supported by Riccardo Improta and Iago Falque.

Milan needed a convincing start after their recent setbacks and they had it on six minutes as Hakan Calhanoglu scored his second goal in a row for the red-and-blacks – his fourth this season.

Theo Hernandez exchanged with Franck Kessié, who delivered the ball to Alexis Saelemaekers. The Belgian’s return pass was aimed at Milan’s Presidente, but Kessié cleverly stepped over to allow the Turk to finish with a deadly right-foot shot.

The Diavolo could have soon made it two but a swift counterattack on 15 minutes was squandered by Rafael Leao, whose shot hit right where goalkeeper Lorenzo Montipò was standing.

Benevento’s goalie had to dive to his left to defuse a Theo Hernandez challenge on 36 minutes. Right on the stroke of half time, he was called to action again and he brilliantly denied Zlatan Ibrahimovic with his feet.

Those were the highlights of a first period that saw Milan pretty much in control. Filippo Inzaghi and his boys had something to say when Ismael Bennacer tackled Bryan Dabo a few minutes after being booked but for referee Gianpaolo Calvarese it was just an average foul.

After the break, Stefano Pioli replaced the Algerian midfielder with Sandro Tonali before he would risk to remain with one man less again. 

The battle between Ibrahimovic and Montipò promptly renewed, with the goalie once again able to deny Zlatan with his foot. On 54 minutes, Ibra went one-to-one with him yet another time but the goalkeeper raised the wall again.

For Benevento, Iago Falque tried his luck from outside of the box only to see the ball crash into the commercial LED banners. That was his last contribution to the game as the Spaniard soon gave way to Roberto Insigne.

Milan understood that the only way to beat Montipò was tapping the ball in after he saved from Ibrahimovic and that’s exactly what Theo Hernandez did on 59 minutes when the big Swede fired the ball towards Benevento’s goal for the umpteenth time.

A flurry of changes reshaped both teams for the last 15 minutes of the game though the match outcome wouldn’t change. Milan wasted a few chances to round up the scoring but, when referee Calvarese blew for full time, they could just be happy with coming back to winning ways.

Benevento have four games left to save themselves and, if fellow relegation strugglers Torino or Cagliari make points tomorrow, their task will get even more difficult.




May 1, 2021 – Serie A 2020-21 Round 34

SCORERS: 6′ Calhanoglu, 59′ Hernandez

MILAN (4-2-3-1): G. Donnarumma; Diogo Dalot, Romagnoli, Tomori, Hernandez (74′ Calabria); Kessié, Bennacer (46′ Tonali); Saelemaekers (74′ Castillejo), Calhanoglu (85′ Brahim Diaz), Rafael Leao (74′ Rebic); Ibrahimovic (Tatarusanu, Hauge, Meité, Kalulu, Kjaer, Krunic, Gabbia) Coach: Pioli
BENEVENTO (4-3-2-1): Montipò; Depaoli, Glik, Caldirola, Barba; Dabo (86′ Tello), Viola, Ionita; Improta (75′ Caprari), Iago Falque (54′ R. Insigne); Lapadula (75′ Gaich) (Manfredini, Lucatelli, Pastina, Sanogo, Schiattarella, Hetemaj, Diambo, Di Serio) Coach: F. Inzaghi

REFEREE: Mr. Calvarese from Teramo 
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Bennacer, Castillejo (M); Extra Time: 1st Half 3′, 2nd Half 5′