AC Milan, Blog Post, Clubs, Patrick Cutrone, UEFA Europa League

AC Milan came from behind to secure a 3-1 Europa League victory over Olympiakos on Thursday, with Gennaro Gattuso’s substitutions proving to be crucial. The visitors took the lead in the first half, but three goals in 10 minutes from Patrick Cutrone and Gonzalo Higuain turned the game on its head.

Positives

The Rossoneri took their goals well to seal their comeback win, with Cutrone and Higuain both showing a clinical edge in the box. Having dominated possession for periods to control the game even after going behind, they eventually made their quality show in the final third.

Negatives

Aside from conceding a poor goal, Milan lacked urgency and intensity off the ball, too, which allowed the visitors to get comfortable and play through their midfield. The hosts needed the first goal to really spark the side into life, which should be a concern.

Manager rating out of 10

7 — Gattuso wasted little time in bringing on Cutrone and Hakan Calhanoglu in the second half, and it proved to be decisive. Both players were key in the comeback, and so the Milan boss deserves praise for switching his system to a 4-4-2. Prior to that, though, Milan looked disjointed and ragged in the way they were set up.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Pepe Reina, 6 — Little he could have done for the goal, but was otherwise alert to any danger and appeared to be a calming influence behind the back line, with a wealth of experience to draw upon.

DF Davide Calabria, 6 — Wasn’t particularly effective going forward, but his tireless running deserves recognition. Defended well for the most part, even though he was outpaced on occasion as he continues to show growing maturity.

DF Cristian Zapata, 5 — Lost Miguel Guerrero for the goal as he showed a real lack of awareness to track his run behind him. Was sloppy in possession at times and wasted some goal-scoring opportunities, too, in a disappointing return to the lineup.

DF Alessio Romagnoli, 6 — Overall, it was a solid performance from the Milan captain as he marshalled his defence well. However, must also take some responsibility for the lack of communication that saw Zapata exposed for the goal, while he didn’t fare much better himself in the air on occasion, either.

DF Ricardo Rodriguez, 7 — Still needs to do more over 90 minutes, as he often takes too long in possession or opts for a safe pass. However, as seen with the assist for the first goal, when he does venture forward and gets a delivery into the box, he can be decisive.

MF Tiemoue Bakayoko, 5 — Showed glimpses of quality, but produced a questionable display on the whole as he never really looked assured or safe in possession. Whether it’s a lack of confidence or sharpness, he did little to make an argument to feature more prominently.

MF Lucas Biglia, 6 — Impressive work rate to constantly shuffle around the pitch looking to intercept and make tackles, but was caught out on occasion as Yaya Toure & Co. started to dictate the game in the second half. Was arguably the best of the Milan midfielders, although there are still flaws there.

MF Giacomo Bonaventura, 5 — Started brightly and should have had a goal but for his teammate tapping home and being flagged for offside. Wasteful in possession and struggled to make his runs forward as he began to slip out the game before being replaced.

FW Suso, 6 — A positive outing for the Spaniard, although he fell back into his old habits of swinging crosses in despite Higuain being his only real target. Nevertheless, deserves credit for continuing to take players on and tried to make something happen throughout.

FW Gonzalo Higuain, 6 — Didn’t do a great deal prior to his goal, but he took that with real class as he showed a great touch and finish to give Milan the lead. While he’s pivotal in the buildup of play for his side, it’s also important that he pounces to score goals even if he’s quiet, and he did just that.

FW Samu Castillejo, 5 — An erratic performance both in terms of his influence on proceedings and his positioning on the pitch. Given more freedom behind Higuain and out on the left, but faded out of the game as it went on as he didn’t have the quality needed to find a key breakthrough.

Substitutions

FW Patrick Cutrone, 8 — Proved how crucial his impact can be as he not only added more intensity and pressure up front, but scored two great goals in terms of his movement in the box to finish his chances. Gattuso will be delighted to have a fully fit Cutrone at his disposal.

MF Hakan Calhanoglu, 7 — Unfortunate not to score himself, with his late effort hitting the post, but produced two assists to help turn the game around and made his quality in the final third show. He’ll hope that will now bring him back to the level he showed in the second half of last season.

FW Fabio Borini, N/R — Came on late to add energy and more solidity to help Milan see out the win.

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