If the game in Turin brought positive signs despite the elimination, tonight’s performance at Lecce’s Stadio Via del Mare certainly confirmed that AC Milan are on the right track in their return to league action. The Rossoneri came away with a convincing 4-1 win over the Salentini, the goals coming from Castillejo in the first half, then Bonaventura, Rebić and Leão in the second. With the game taking place on matchday 27 in Serie A, this marked the Rossoneri’s biggest win in terms of goal-margin this season with a goal difference of three, and finally a performance which brought with it the deserved conversion rate in front of goal. The reaction of Coach Pioli’s side in the second half deserves a special mention, as the Rossoneri scored two goals in three minutes between 55’ and 57’, having just conceded a penalty to level the game. It was this short spell that not only put AC Milan back in control, but also sealed the win, with the home side having no chance of a comeback. Important signs of the mental growth and improved awareness found in 2020, with 18 points from the ten games this calendar year so far. The Rossoneri will next be back on the pitch on Sunday 28 June, as they return to San Siro to face Roma for a 17:15 CEST kick-off.
AC Milan started very strongly, forcing four big saves out of Gabriel, the former Rossoneri goalkeeper, in just the first 25 minutes. The first chance came from close-in with Bonaventura in minute 15, then Castillejo tried with his left in the 17th minute, followed by a Kessie longshot after 20 minutes and a great effort from Theo after 25. This knocking at the door was finally answered as the Giallorossi defence broke down in minute 26: a fizzed-in cross from Çalhanoğlu on the right and a superb finish from Castillejo as he opened up his body to place it into the corner and give AC Milan the lead. Lecce thought they’d found a way back into the game in the 38th minute, but Meccariello's goal was then correctly ruled out for offside. Just minutes later, the Rossoneri lost another central defender: Simon Kjær pulled up short due to a problem in his knee, calling an end to his night as he was replaced by Matteo Gabbia.
And it was the same Gabbia, four minutes into stoppage time in the first half, who came so close to the Rossoneri’s second as he volleyed goalwards from inside the area, only just kept out by Gabriel. The final chance of the first half came from Lapadula, as he made the most of a Bennacer mistake to break through one-on-one with Gigio before sending the ball narrowly wide of the target. The start of the second half saw AC Milan take a blow but respond right away: Mancosu equalised from the penalty spot in minute 53, but the Rossoneri went right down the other end the next minute, re-establishing their lead through Bonaventura as he charged in to tap home Gabriel’s spilled save. Then, in minute 57, a third arrived for AC Milan, this time Ante Rebić charging away on the counter and making no mistake as he slotted the ball past the onrushing Gabriel to make it 3-1. The chance then fell to Rafael Leão to finish off proceedings with our Brazilian having only been on the pitch for five minutes, and he duly headed home Conti’s pinpoint cross to make it 4-1 at full-time.
LECCE 1-4 AC MILAN
Lecce (4-3-2-1): Gabriel; Rispoli, Lucioni, Meccariello, Calderoni; Mancosu (87' Shakhov), Petriccione, Tatchidis; Saponara (87' Vera), Falco; Lapadula (46' Babacar). Subs: Vigorito; Chironi, Radicchio, Paz, Rossettini, Colella, Maselli. Coach: Liverani
Milan (4-2-3-1): Donnarumma G.; Conti, Kjær (40' Gabbia), Romagnoli, Theo Hernández; Castillejo (67' Saelemaekers), Kessie (86' Biglia), Bennacer, Bonaventura (86' Paquetá); Çalhanoğlu; Rebić (67' Leão). Subs: Begović, Donnarumma A.; Calabria, Laxalt; Krunić, Colombo, Maldini. Coach: Pioli
Referee: Valeri di Roma
Goals: 26' Castillejo (M), 54' rig. Mancosu (L), 55' Bonaventura (M), 57' Rebić (M), 72' Leão.
Booked: 48' Pioli (M), 49' Lucioni (L), 63' Gabbia (M).
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