Bonucci nets the lone goal for much-improved Milan in win vs. Crotone
AC Milan kick-started 2018 with a 1-0 win over Crotone on Saturday, with Leonardo Bonucci scoring his first goal for the club. It was a much-improved performance from the Rossoneri, although they still had to endure a nervous ending as they secured all three points.
The speed with which Milan were moving the ball from defence to attack was an obvious positive. They played with better tempo, more intensity and there was better movement off the ball, which led to improved build-up play and real threatening situations.
Although they were never really in danger of surrendering their lead, there were some dubious calls to disallow two goals and there was still a sense of anxiety in the latter stages. Milan must kill off games like these.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Gennaro Gattuso is getting the grit and determination out of his players, which gives them a solid foundation, but more importantly that was coupled with a positive attacking performance too. More of the same moving forward, please, along with more goals.
Player ratings out of 10 (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Gianluigi Donnarumma, 6 -- Made two key saves in the second half, showing his maturity to stay focused throughout and his bravery to dive out of his goal to deny Crotone an equaliser. Thankfully, the jeers were no longer audible from the stand.
DF Davide Calabria, 7 -- Didn't put a foot wrong defensively and paired that with quality going forward with his distribution and delivery. It was a really mature display from the youngster, which hopefully sets the standard for what's expected of him in the future, as he could offer real competition for Andrea Conti when he returns.
DF Leonardo Bonucci, 7 -- Produced a much more commanding and assured display compared to last time out against Fiorentina, and his passing out from the back was important. Great to see him celebrate his first goal for the club, albeit pretty fortuitous, but it gets him off the mark and will be a boost for his confidence.
DF Alessio Romagnoli, 6 -- Similar to Bonucci in that he dealt with Crotone's threat well and was assured on the ball to offer an option in building play. Saw a slight dip from him last time out; definitely an improvement.
DF Ricardo Rodriguez, 6 -- It's becoming a familiar story with the Swiss international in that he shows great defensive awareness and solidity to do that part of his game well. However, needs to offer more going forward, given he's tasked with providing width on the left flank.
MF Franck Kessie, 6 -- Hopefully his injury isn't serious, as after running himself into the ground he was forced off with a problem. Nevertheless, it wasn't as good a performance as we know he's capable of, especially in the second half.
MF Lucas Biglia, 6 -- Still not expressing himself enough in the heart of the midfield. Tidies up well, providing coverage in front of the backline, dispossessing the opposition and playing simple passes to his teammates, but would still like to see more from him.
MF Giacomo Bonaventura, 6 -- Produced a couple of dangerous moments as he threatened to get on the scoresheet, but overall, not one of his more influential displays. Did make himself an option often enough to help the team as a whole though.
FW Suso, 6 -- Forced Alex Cordaz into a stunning save, and while he will always be one of his Milan's biggest threats going forward, he wasn't able to add that decisive touch in key moments to stamp his mark on the game.
FW Patrick Cutrone, 6 -- Will never be found wanting in terms of energy, determination and effort, but through a combination of a lack of service and an inability to get involved enough, it was a generally frustrating afternoon for him.
FW Hakan Calhanoglu, 7 -- As his fitness continues to improve, believe that we'll start to see the best of him and see a more influential Calhanoglu on the pitch. Much more active and looked a real creative threat, all that was missing was a goal, although he did swing in the corner for the goal.
FW Nikola Kalinic, N/A -- The under-fire forward was greeted by jeers as he came on, but in his defence -- given the circumstances of the game and lack of time on the pitch -- it was difficult for him to have a big impact on proceedings.
MF Manuel Locatelli, N/A -- Similarly to Kalinic, didn't have enough of an opportunity to get too involved, aside from offering a fresh pair of legs in midfield to help see out the win.
Sumeet Paul covers AC Milan for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @SP_Calcio.