For the first time in what seems an eternity, Milan were efficient in front of goal, but it took till the second half in Lecce for the solid play to reap its rewards.
For too long the club's players have been accused of being too static, too slow and even lacking in intensity. There have been many times that Milan should have moved the ball quicker in recent years, either when in possession or on the counter-attack. It had allowed their opponents to recover and block off any potential danger.
Playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation, it was particularly noteworthy that Ante Rebic occasionally drifted wide to get involved in the play. Players can be creatures of habit and the Croatian (kung-fu kick in the Coppa Italia semi-final notwithstanding) showed his natural tendency to want to create.
Similarly, Castillejo was supposed to be on the wing, but drifted inwards to keep the Lecce defenders guessing. It worked a treat for the goal when the Spaniard found himself all alone in the penalty area to redirect a low Hakan Calhanoglu cross-shot.
In addition to the lack of energy that has been levelled at the Rossoneri in recent times, the will to fight and lift their heads up when things are not going their way is another. ‘Weak mentality’ is the phrase most bandied about. Conceding the equaliser from the penalty spot for a clumsy Matteo Gabbia challenge could’ve broken their spirit. Instead, as the sun set in Southern Italy, Milan roared back and struck twice in the space of a couple minutes.
Intricate build up on the right meant that Calhanoglu, strongly rumoured to be a major part of the plans of the soon to be new coach Ralf Rangnick's new Milan, saw his snapshot only parried by Gabriel and Bonaventura buried the rebound. Jack is likely to leave at the end of this campaign, but a goal in his 150th start for the club should leave a good memory. Rebic was then given the freedom of the stadium to maraud towards goal to make it 3-1. He promptly hugged one of the Lecce ball-boys to celebrate, so social distancing be gone.
He was replaced by Rafael Leao and the Portuguese youngster produced a diving header to finish off a once in a blue moon penetrative cross from Andrea Conti, and the romp was complete. The 21-year old wasted no time in making a 'stop talking' gesture to his critics, but it's going to take more than that one goal after so long to convince.
Following the lockdown of three months, Milan have held Juve in the Coppa Italia playing with 10 men for the majority of the game and beaten a relegation threatened Lecce outfit. Despite the seemingly daily drama and confusion at the club in recent times, with upper management, coaches and players all in limbo as to their status at Milan, it's time to set aside their own personal points and do what is best for the club.
Another 11 finals await and the possibility of European qualification must be the only thing on their minds now.
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