AC Milan have put an end to a string of underwhelming results, beating Torino at San Siro on Friday evening by 1-0.
The French connection
The goal that settled the game and earned the Rossoneri the tree points, scored in the 62nd minute, was the combined work of Theo Hernandez and Olivier Giroud, two France internationals who played a great part as their country made its way into the World Cup final a few months ago. After Hernandez’s first attempt of a cross got cleared and recycled, he whipped a perfect one from the left to find Giroud, who successfully pealed away from Koffi Djidjijust outside the six-yard box and headed past Vanja Milinkovic-Savic in the Torino goal to hit the back of the net.
Hernandez was typically industrious throughout the match, marauding up and down that left flank with the determination and perseverance which the armband of the Milan captain demands. After all, there’s a big pair of shoes to fill for a left-back wearing it, considering what the current sporting director of the club did in his playing days.
It was the 25-year-old’s third assist and fifth goal involvement overall in 19 Serie A matches this season.
Meanwhile, there’s plenty of responsibility on the wide shoulders of Giroud this term as well, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic just returned to training following an ACL tear and Divock Origi seriously out of form. The 36-year-old former Arsenal and Chelsea man netted his seventh league goal in 20 matches. He also has four assists to his name.
The contest was exciting from the aspect of its outcome with only one goal in it. It could certainly have gone the other way as well, with Ciprian Tatarusanu forced into a pair of rather difficult saves in the first half as the visitors showed from the first whistle that they didn’t come to San Siro just to defend. Striker Antonio Sanabria was unlucky in the 18th minute when his effort from outside box trickled just wide, but he probably should’ve done better in the 37th when Milan defender Simon Kjaer slipped as he turned towards his own goal inside the box and lost control of the ball. Tatarusanu was quick off the line to thwart the Torino striker, but Sanabria still should’ve shown more composure and put the chance away.
Milan also had a few good chances apart from Giroud’s goal, and Milinkovic-Savic did well to deny the French veteran a couple of times.
On the other hand, there were patches of the game when nothing worthy of mention seemed to be happening, with plenty of misplaced passes on both sides and very little creative spark.
It was actually Torino who had more of the ball under their control (54%) and took more shots (12) towards Tatarusanu than Milan did towards Milinkovic-Savic (9), though the home team hit the target more times – four, compared to Torino doing so twice. Torino also took eight corners, five more than Milan, and played far more aggressively, committing 20 fouls compared to Milan’s 10.
The visitors tried to increase the pressure towards the end of the game, searching for an opportunity for a late equalizer, but the Rossoneri kept their heads and held out to the final whistle without too many difficulties.
The victory has lifted Milan into third place, at least for a day until Roma face Lecce on Saturday, and the points they earned will surely mean a lot in the race for Champions League qualification. As things stand, Napoli are far gone in the title race, but the remaining three spots leading into UEFA’s elite club competition will be decided between Inter, Milan, Roma, Lazio and Atalanta.
As for Torino, this defeat means very little. With those who end up losing the Champions League race set to play in the other two European competitions, their fate appears to be to miss out completely, though they will surely want to keep as close as possible, just in case. For the time being, Ivan Juric’s team remains seventh with 30 points, eight less than Atalanta in sixth.
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