After all their hard work in recent weeks, it looked as though Milan were potentially set to slip up against Parma at San Siro on Wednesday night.
Trailing 1-0 at the break, the Rossoneri had to bounce back and respond in the second half and they did just that with three unanswered goals to secure a 3-1 victory which in turn keeps our impressive form since the restart going.
While it was far from a perfect performance, it was good enough to get the desired outcome and so Stefano Pioli will be delighted that our momentum and good run goes on.
Old habits in first half
It looked as though we were following an all-too familiar script in the opening 45 minutes. After dominating the early stages, we wasted some decent chances and then allowed our tempo to drop, which in turn opened the door for Parma to gain confidence and start launching counter attacks.
Eventually, one led to a goal as we fell behind and it was a bitterly frustrating way to head into the interval as we’ve been in that position far too many times in recent years, particularly at home against sides below us in the table.
That was a worrying sight given how well we’ve played recently against tougher opposition, and with so much on the line and having done all that hard work to get ourselves in this position, it was frustrating to see us risk throwing it away.
Great character in second half to turn it around
That said, we saw the opposite in the second half as we showed great character to complete the comeback and secure all three points.
While it required key players to show individual moments of quality, it also says a lot about the mentality and personality of this squad under Pioli that we were able to put that disappointment from the first half behind us and get the job done.
We’re not always going to win well and in style, it’s important that we develop a habit of grinding out victories and winning ugly too when necessary. However, we certainly showed real quality to secure this win.
Another huge save from Donnarumma
While the focus will largely be on the goalscorers and the team as a whole for successfully coming from behind to seal the win, Gianluigi Donnarumma’s contribution shouldn’t be lost.
It’s not the first time and it certainly won’t be the last, but the 21-year-old produced a decisive save at 2-1 which denied Parma what could have been a crucial lifeline and cost us points.
Fortunately, he was up for the challenge as he denied Roberto Inglese and preserved our lead, and just minutes later Hakan Calhanoglu put us 3-1 up to kill the game.
Kessie’s great form continues
The way in which Franck Kessie has cemented his place in the Milan XI in recent months has been nothing short of superb to watch. Importantly too, it’s not just what he offers in the defensive phase anymore either.
While his energy, combativeness and physicality give us an important presence in the midfield battle and a foothold in most games, he is starting to show real quality on the ball too.
Whether it’s spraying passes around or coming up with an absolute rocket of a shot to grab our equaliser, he’s in great form and long may it continue.
No Bennacer, Castillejo and Rebic…no coincidence we struggled
With games every three days, Pioli can’t be faulted for rotating as he has to keep his players fresh and avoid seeing any key individuals pick up injuries with just a handful of games left.
However, the fact that we fell back into bad habits and looked like spurning points like we’ve done so many times earlier in the season and in previous campaigns with no Ismael Bennacer, Ante Rebic and Samu Castillejo (injured) on the pitch, it was arguably no coincidence.
Milan have looked really impressive when we’ve played at a high tempo and pressed with energy and put pressure on the opposition, whether they’re ahead of us or trailing in the standings. With the three names mentioned above, we get those attributes in abundance and it could be argued that approach is the one we need to adopt and fully embrace moving forward if we’re to overwhelm and defeat teams regularly.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic had his moments, but along with Rafael Leao and Lucas Biglia, the trio were disappointing for the most part with a lack of influence off the ball and perhaps not enough quality in possession either.