Milan were held to a disappointing 2-2 draw by Lecce on Sunday night, but Stefano Pioli can be pleased with what he saw on the whole from his players.
The new Milan coach wasn’t able to celebrate his 54th birthday with a win, as we surrendered a lead twice to drop two points in frustrating fashion.
However, it was arguably the best performance of the season thus far, as we played with real intensity, direction and at a high-tempo to show that Pioli’s ideas and style of play are already getting across to the players.
While there will be huge disappointment due to the result, there are undoubtedly positive signs to take away from the game, with certain individuals putting in excellent performances too.
Gianluigi Donnarumma, 6.5 — Did well to save the penalty, but will perhaps be frustrated with himself about pushing it back out into a dangerous area. Beaten by a brilliant strike for the second, but dealt with any danger well in a decent display.
Andrea Conti, 5 — Started well, looked good in possession and wasn’t really troubled defensively. However, things started to fall apart in the second half as he gave away the penalty cheaply and as he started to look tired, became increasingly sloppy on the ball and got caught out at the back.
Mateo Musacchio, 6 — Didn’t have to do a great deal of defending given we nullified Lecce’s threat for the most part, but defended well when called upon and was relatively accurate with his distribution out from the back.
Alessio Romagnoli, 6 — Similarly to his defensive partner, he hardly put a foot wrong defensively as he didn’t need to do too much, while he was as reliable as ever in terms of his passing and building from the back.
Theo Hernandez, 7 — A thoroughly enjoyable performance as he attacked down the left flank at every available opportunity. Played with intensity, desire and urgency going forward as well as with his defensive work, and has surely made the left-back position his own already.
Lucas Paqueta, 6.5 — Dropped off in the second half and was replaced, but the Brazilian ace showed his technical quality in our build up play and tenacity off it to win back possession. Will need to find consistency and get 90 minutes in his legs, but good start under Pioli as he could have a key role to play.
Lucas Biglia, 5 — Did the simple things well, but generally was anonymous in the game and didn’t offer a great deal to our play. Gets marked down for his sloppy pass which led to the second equaliser, as he doesn’t look like he can manage 90 minutes. Particularly with our attacking, positive style of play, it’s hard to see how Ismael Bennacer isn’t a better fit for Pioli.
Franck Kessie, 5.5 — Floated to the left of midfield to cover Hernandez when he attacked, and it’s arguably a sensible tactic from Pioli. It brings out the defensive qualities that Kessie has, while keeping him away from goal and leaving that job to others. As seen with the chance he fluffed, he still hasn’t found the composure and quality needed in front of goal.
Suso, 5 — Had his moments with his usual threat of cutting in on his left foot and troubling the Lecce defence, but there was no real decisive touch in anything he produced. Similarly to Biglia, he was also at fault of being sloppy before the second goal, although showing less reliance on him and asking him to pass quicker had its benefits too.
Rafael Leao, 5 — The 20-year-old deserves credit for getting into dangerous positions as his pace and movement caused problems, particularly early on, and he looked a real handful. However, he couldn’t add the finishing touch, and that could of been the difference between killing this game off early on and us eventually dropping two points.
Hakan Calhanoglu, 8 — He has had to deal with a huge amount of criticism and scrutiny for some time, and deservedly so as he hasn’t performed at the level required. However, this was the level of performance that we’ve been crying out for and it was brilliant to see him respond and put in a real shift for the team to impress Pioli immediately. He seemed to revel in a free role as he bagged a brilliant goal and produced a sublime assist, while he battled hard for everything and played with real intent. Man of the Match.
Krzysztof Piatek, 6.5 — It doesn’t help when his teammates think drilling the ball into his feet is the best way to build play, and he did struggle with his hold up play. However, he was on hand in the right place at the right time for Calhanoglu to find him for our second goal, and he will hopefully now use that to get back to his prolific ways.
Rade Krunic, 5.5 — Decent run out as although he didn’t do a great deal to change the way the game was going, he showed some tidy touches and got stuck in to offer a presence in midfield.
Ante Rebic, 5 — Not the greatest of cameo performances as he gave the ball away cheaply and didn’t really add much in attack for the final 10 minutes. Bit of a lose-lose situation for him as it’s difficult to really get up to speed with such little playing time.