AC Milan boosted their hopes of European football next season with a confident 2-0 victory against AS Roma at the San Siro on Sunday evening.
Stefano Poli’s men were the better of the two sides but were frustrated in their efforts to go ahead throughout the first-half. It took until the 76th minute for Milan to claim the lead as Ante Rebic hammered home from close range. The points were sealed in the final seconds as Chris Smalling conceded a penalty that was dispatched by Hakan Calhanoglu.
Roma start the better
Despite falling to defeat, it was actually the visitors who had the better of the early chances. Justin Kluivert initially tested Gianluigi Donnarumma, with the Italian tipping his effort just wide. Forward Edin Dzeko then went extremely close to opening the scoring but his header somehow went just wide of the Milan goal.
The first real chance for the hosts took at least half an hour but it was wasted by Giacomo Bonaventura as he blasted over the crossbar.
AC Milan grow into the game
An even better chance then came for the hosts and it was Calhanoglu who went close. Getting on the end of Theo Hernandez’s excellent cross, the Turk also headed over as the sides headed into the break level.
The opener almost came after the restart and it was a horrendous mistake from the visitors that was the catalyst. A horrendous back-pass saw Rebic charge down the ball but his touch was slightly too heavy to the relief of Paulo Fonseca and his team.
On-loan Arsenal man Henrikh Mhkitaryan did have one of few chances for the visitors in the second-half but his powerful effort was blocked by Simon Kjaer.
Rebic puts Milan ahead
As the game ticked on, it looked more and more likely that Milan would edge ahead, especially after Lucas Paquetá had his great effort from range tipped away by Antonio Mirante.
Roma’s stern backline was eventually breached with just 15 minutes left to play but it took a few attempts. First, Franck Kessie’s acrobatic was palmed away but fell straight to Rebic. The goalkeeper recovered well to save that follow-up effort by tipping it onto the post. However, it unfortunately fell straight back to the former Eintracht Frankfurt man and he hammered the ball into the far corner.
Calhanoglu puts result beyond doubt from the spot
Milan’s chance to finally seal the points took until practically the final moments of regulation time. Hernandez was taken down in the box by on-loan Manchester United defender Chris Smalling, with a spot-kick being signalled. Calhanoglu was the man to step up and he did not fail by beating Mirante for his fourth Serie A goal of the season, seeing the hosts claim maximum points.
The scoreline from the San Siro could well have been far more emphatic had they been slightly more clinical. Poli’s troops enjoyed pretty constant pressure throughout the game, with that paying dividends late on in the game. As a result, they rise to just six points behind fifth-placed Roma in the Serie A standings.
AC Milan: Donnarumma (7); Hernandez (7), Romagnoli (6), Kjaer (7), Conti (6); Kessie (7), Bennacer (6), Bonaventura (6) (Saelemaekers (6), 54′), Castillejo (6) (Paqueta (7), 54′); Calhanoglu (7), Rebic (7) (Leao (N/A), 78′)
AS Roma: Mirante (7); Spinazzola (6), Mancini (6), Smalling (6), Zappacosta (5); Christante (7) (Pastore (N/A), 81′), Veretout (6), Mkhitaryan (5) (Perotti (6), 69′), Pellegrini (7) (Diawara (N/A), 81′); Kluivert (5) (Perez (6), 58′), Dzeko (6) (Kalinic (70′).
Goals: Rebic (76′), Calhanoglu PEN (88′)
Referee: Piero Giacomelli
Yellow Cards: Pellegrini (22′), Castillejo (41′), Rebic (62′), Veretout (90+1′)
Red Cards: N/A