AC Milan wrapped up a fundamental and convincing win at the Mapei Stadium, both for the performance and the spirit. The Rossoneri won 2-1 thanks to the lightning-fast strike from Leão and a goal from Saelemaekers. After two consecutive draws - against Parma and Genoa - Stefano Pioli's side got back to winning ways in the league, and now move to 31 points in the table, maintaining their grip on top spot. The result was decided practically from the off, thanks to an attacking approach to the match, and no small amount of ruthlessness. It was never going to be easy to face De Zerbi's Sassuolo, a side that has a lot of ability on the ball and is lethal on the front foot; as such, we have to mention the brilliant defensive performance from centre-backs Romagnoli and Kalulu, as well as the display down the left from Theo, who assisted the second goal on the counter. The axis of Leão and Çalhanoğlu worked well up top too, providing plenty of goal threat. The only bitter note of an otherwise good afternoon was Kessie's booking, which will see him suspended for the next game against Lazio, and Tonali's injury, which forced him off at half time. But we keep our chins up; there's time to enjoy this win before we shift our focus to Wednesday's game against the Biancocelesti at the Stadio Olimpico.
TAKE A LOOK: THE GALLERY OF SASSUOLO V AC MILAN
Ready, set, goal. Rafael Leão, served by a Çalhanoğlu's through ball, gave the Diavolo the lead just 6.80 seconds after kick-off, scoring the fastest goal in Serie A history (and in Europe's Top-5 leagues). AC Milan, after this excellent start, took a moment to breathe before hitting Sassuolo again. In the 12th minute, Leão fed Çalhanoğlu, who beat Consigli to score what looked like AC Milan's second, though it was chalked off by VAR for offside against Saelemaekers at the start of the move. In the 26th minute, Theo jetted off on the counter and provided the assist for Saelemaekers to make it 2-0 for real. The Belgian only had to tap home after the flying French full-back's incredible run down the left. On the stroke of half time, Leão's effort on the turn whizzed just wide of the post.
At the start of the second half, Pioli sent on Krunić in place of the injured Tonali and the Rossoneri dropped deeper and deeper to withstand the Neroverdi's onslaught. Sassuolo threatened first through Traoré and then through Berardi. AC Milan continued to look dangerous on the break, however, and twice missed good chances to put the game beyond the home side: first through Saelemaekers, who fired high and wide from a good position, and then in the 78th minute with Hauge's effort, which was held by a grateful Consigli. In between these two Rossoneri actions, Bourabia's shot in the 76th minute produced a brilliant save from Donnarumma. In the 89th minute, Berardi pulled one back from a free-kick, but the writing was already on the wall: AC Milan won!
SASSUOLO 1-2 AC MILAN
SASSUOLO (4-2-3-1): Consigli; Toljan (61' Müldür), Marlon, Ferrari, Rogerio (46' Kyriakopoulos); Lopez, Bourabia; Berardi, Djuricic (57' Boga), Traoré; Defrel (46' Caputo). Subs: Pegolo, Turati; Ayhan, Chiriches, Peluso; Magnanelli, Obiang; Haraslin, Raspadori. Coach: De Zerbi.
MILAN (4-2-3-1): G. Donnarumma; Calabria, Kalulu, Romagnoli, Hernández; Tonali (46' Krunić), Kessie; Saelemaekers (79' Castillejo), Çalhanoğlu (86' Maldini), Díaz (57' Hauge); Leão. Subs: A. Donnarumma, Tătărușanu; Conti, Dalot, Duarte, Musacchio; Colombo, Roback. Coach: Pioli.
Referee: Mariani from Aprilia.
Goal: 1' Leão (M), 26' Saelemaekers (M), 89' Berardi (S).
Booked: 61' Kessie (M), 65' Berardi (S), 71' Calabria (M), 88' Romagnoli (M).
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