AC Milan made it four wins in their last five Serie A games with a 4-0 win over SPAL. A brace from Patrick Cutrone coupled with goals from Lucas Biglia and Fabio Borini ensured that the Rossoneri continued to claw their way back into contention for the European qualification spots.
Milan have too often risked surrendering a slender lead this season, but they killed the game off in the second half with regular goals and more assured play. Their impressive run goes on and that will naturally continue to build confidence and belief.
Although it was much improved after the interval, the Rossoneri still don’t seem to have found the balance when it comes to protecting a lead and going into survival mode. Shortly after the first goal, they retreated and gave SPAL too much time and space to gain confidence and look a threat.
Manager rating out of 10
7 — Gennaro Gattuso is now starting to convince that he has transformed this side. Playing with grit and determination is one thing, but rattling off positive results consistently while getting it right with key decisions and tactical setups, he really does deserve plenty of praise.
Player ratings out of 10 (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Gianluigi Donnarumma, 6 — A couple of scary moments where he looked a bit indecisive, but for the most part did what he had to do with minimal fuss with SPAL failing to really threaten him.
DF Ignazio Abate, 6 — A solid performance as he carried out his defensive duties well and refused to give SPAL much joy down their left flank. Reserved in attack, but wasn’t particularly needed to do much more.
DF Leonardo Bonucci, 7 — The Milan captain snuffed out SPAL’s threat throughout in a physical encounter with the opposition. Alongside his defensive partner, they kept things tight at the back to register a well-earned clean sheet.
DF Alessio Romagnoli, 7 — Perhaps deserves a slightly higher mark than Bonucci, as again he rarely put a foot wrong in defence and was composed as always in possession. Doesn’t always get the plaudits, but what a fine season he’s having.
DF Ricardo Rodriguez, 6 — Decent display having come back into the team, although there is still something missing from his performances compared to earlier in the season. Nevertheless, did well defensively to play his part.
MF Franck Kessie, 7 — Covered so much ground as always and his suspension against Sampdoria will hurt Milan as he isn’t easily replaceable. Perhaps short of being the driving force he can be from midfield, but was important in a physical clash to protect the lead throughout.
MF Lucas Biglia, 7 — Another assured performance in terms of protecting the defence as he broke up play and kept possession well as always. Added his first goal for the club with a nice curled finish to cap off a good performance.
MF Giacomo Bonaventura, 6 — Not quite at his best this time round as he wasn’t particularly influential on the game. Had his moments as he was important collectively, but we didn’t see enough of his individual quality in this performance.
FW Suso, 7 — Despite SPAL having an obvious tactic of fouling him at every available opportunity, he was crucial in the build-up to the first two goals and continued to be a threat. More often than not, the defence knows what’s coming from the Spaniard and yet he still finds a way to be decisive.
FW Patrick Cutrone, 8 — Took his tally to 12 goals for the season with his first effort standing out. At 20 years of age, he has an effortless ability to sniff out a goal as his positional play is really impressive for such a young player. Naturally gifted in the box, he continues to prove how crucial he is to this side.
FW Hakan Calhanoglu, 7 — Continued his positive run of performances as he has firmly established himself as a key piece in the lineup under Gattuso. Perhaps was missing a bit of decisive class to make a telling impact on the game but was important nonetheless as his vision and passing is key.
MF Riccardo Montolivo, NR — Great assist for Borini’s goal as he came on in the latter stages and made a real impression.
FW Andre Silva, NR — Didn’t do a great deal, but held the ball up well at times as he was ultimately brought on to help see out the game with the hope that he could find a breakthrough to boost his confidence.
MF Fabio Borini, NR — Deserved his goal for all the hard work he has put in so far this season, a nice impact off the bench to add further gloss to the win.
Sumeet Paul covers AC Milan for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @SP_Calcio.