Milan took a while to break down a rugged Spezia, but Rafael Leao eventually bagged a brace around the Theo Hernandez solo run after Hakan Calhanoglu’s introduction.
The Rossoneri had won all their games so far this season, even if on Thursday night they went through a 2-2 draw in extra time away to Rio Ave, securing Europa League qualification after an epic shoot-out that required 24 penalties.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ante Rebic, Alessio Romagnoli, Leo Duarte, Mateo Musacchio and Andrea Conti were still out of action, so Lorenzo Colombo, Brahim Diaz, Sandro Tonali and Rafael Leao started in a very young XI. Spezia celebrated their first ever Serie A victory midweek, 2-0 away to Udinese, although Claudio Terzi was sent off and was therefore suspended here.
Jacopo Sala made a decisive tackle as Rafael Leao was ready to volley in from close range, but Spezia almost prompted an own goal, Gianluigi Donnarumma having to make a save on Davide Calabria’s attempt to anticipate Tommaso Pobega at the back post.
There was bad news for Spezia, as Andrey Galabinov went off injured, the only player who has ever scored for them in Serie A.
Brahim Diaz got on the end of an Alexis Saelemaekers cross, but could only nod it over from 12 yards, then Saelemaekers wasted by blasting over after great work from Davide Calabria.
Spezia had a huge chance just before the break, Daniele Verde on the counter forcing Donnarumma to parry at the near top corner.
Hakan Calhanoglu was introduced for the second half, moving Leao to a centre-forward role, and it made a huge difference. The Turkey international set up Brahim Diaz to fire wide from the edge of the box, then his wonderful free kick was whipped to the back post for Leao to turn in from four yards, opening the scoring.
Kevin Agudelo came off the bench and forced Donnarumma to fingertip his strike out from under the bar.
Jens Hauge made his debut in a Rossoneri jersey, having caught their eye when scoring against them for Bodo/Glimt in the Europa League preliminary rounds.
Milan doubled their lead with Theo Hernandez, who pressed Agudelo into losing the ball in midfield, sprinted forward and thumped his low drive into the far bottom corner.
Spezia finally crumbled after holding out so well and there was a third moments later. Franck Kessie nodded down the Saelemaekers cross and Leao tapped in from six yards.
Rafael prevented a fourth, using his legs to deny Theo Hernandez at the end of a sweeping team move.
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