Milan ended a nine-year home drought against defending champions Napoli in Serie A with a narrow 1-0 victory on Sunday night. Theo Hernandez’s first-half goal made the difference as Stefano Pioli’s side maintained their slim title hopes alive.
Pioli couldn’t have imagined a better start to his 220th game in charge of Milan. His star duo Rafael Leao and Hernandez combined well on the left side, with the French left-back finishing with aplomb from an acute angle to give Rossoneri the lead in the 25th minute.
Little did anyone at San Siro know it would be the only goal, especially considering high scoring has been a common theme in the recent matches between Milan and Napoli. But in all fairness, the hosts failed to produce much in the front third.
Other than Hernandez’s strike, they barely had any other promising opportunity. In their defense, Milan kept Napoli at arm’s length for most of the game, though Walter Mazzarri’s men had several decent half-chances to snatch away a point.
Without further ado, let’s look at our Milan ratings.
Mike Maignan – 7
After several woeful performances, the star goalkeeper reminded Milan fans of his quality with a reassuring display in the most critical fixture.
Theo Hernandez – 8
It’s not just about the goal. The highly-rated defender proved why many consider him among the best left-backs in the world, excelling on both ends of the field.
Matteo Gabbia – 7
While he can still work on his composure, the Milan returnee fared reasonably well, avoiding risks and keeping his passes clean and simple.
Simon Kjaer – 7
Equal to the challenge as ever! The veteran center-back held up his end of the bargain in aerial duels and timed his defensive tackles to perfection.
Davide Calabria – 6
After a bright start to the game, the Milan captain picked up an injury late in the first half, forcing Pioli to sub him off.
Yacine Adli – 6.5
Despite misplacing some routine passes, the deep-lying playmaker did well in the middle of the park, especially in the first half.
Ismael Bennacer – 6
Still a bit rusty following a lengthy spell on the sidelines, the Algerian failed to gain a foothold in the match but gradually improved as the contest progressed.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek – 6.5
Though he wasn’t as decisive as in some recent outings, the Englishman was still Milan’s best midfielder, using his strength and pace to retain possession and move the ball forward.
Christian Pulisic – 5.5
Arguably one of his weakest games this season! Overshadowed by Leao’s inspirational night, the United States skipper spent most of the match in stealth mode.
Rafael Leao – 7.5
Despite failing to get on the scoresheet, the Portuguese ace chipped in with a pivotal assist as he seems to be returning to his usual best after a relatively sluggish start to the season.
Olivier Giroud – 6
It was a frustrating evening for the aging striker. He never had a clear sight of goal.
Alessandro Florenzi – 6.5
Yunus Musah – 7
Jan-Carlo Simic – 6.5
Luka Jovic – 5
Alejandro Jimenez – 5.5
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