Serie A Week 17 - 9 Jan 2021 (19.45 UK)
Milan 2 - 0 Torino
Leao 25 (M), Kessie pen 36 (M)
Stadio Giuseppe Meazza

Rafael Leao’s counter-attack and a Franck Kessie penalty gave Milan a precious 2-0 victory over Torino to stay top of the table, but lost Sandro Tonali to injury.

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The Rossoneri were fresh off their first Serie A defeat since March, 3-1 to Juventus, and the absentee list remained extensive with Ante Rebic, Rade Krunic, Ismael Bennacer, Alexis Saelemaekers and Matteo Gabbia out, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Hakan Calhanoglu ready only for a spot on the bench, and Sandro Tonali returning from suspension. Toro had improved lately under ex-Milan coach Marco Giampaolo, starting here with ex-Diavolo players Ricardo Rodriguez and Simone Verdi.

Samu Castillejo almost pressed Salvatore Sirigu into a howler in the opening minute, while Tonali’s free kick was deflected wide by Wilfried Singo.

Armando Izzo made the crucial interception to stop Jens Petter Hauge tapping in the Davide Calabria assist at the back post, but the goal had been coming.

Theo Hernandez surged forward from midfield, laid it off to Brahim Diaz, whose first time pass sent Rafael Leao clear to prod past on-rushing Sirigu.

Brahim Diaz dribbled into the box on a short corner was went down under pressure, the referee deciding for a penalty after a VAR on-field review for Andrea Belotti catching his shin. Franck Kessie kept his customary cool to convert the spot-kick.

Simon Kjaer made a decisive sliding tackle on Simone Verdi, then Ricardo Rodriguez almost scored against his former club with a splendid free kick that smacked against the crossbar at the near top corner.

Milan almost scored a third on the counter, Kessie combining with Leao until the midfielder stung Sirigu’s gloves from close range.

There was an odd incident on 51 minutes when Verdi got into a tangle with Tonali and the referee awarded a penalty. However, after the on-field review, the decision was changed, as Tonali had if anything been kicked by Verdi when accidentally getting in the way. The damage was done anyway, as Tonali was stretchered off due to the ankle injury. Diogo Dalot came on, moving Davide Calabria into midfield.

Torino began to pour forward and pin the Rossoneri back, Calabria with a decisive interception to stop Belotti volleying in, then Leao was booked for simulation on the counter and will be suspended against Cagliari.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his first appearance in almost two months, as Milan hung on under pressure to the clean sheet. Gianluigi Donnarumma needed a sensational reaction save, as Jacopo Segre’s strike took a massive deflection and the goalkeeper had to readjust mid-air to parry with one-hand.

Kessie also made a crucial block in the penalty area on Verdi’s control and half-volley.

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Milan: G Donnarumma; Calabria, Kjaer, Romagnoli, Theo Hernandez; Kessie, Tonali (Dalot 54); Castillejo, Brahim Diaz (Calhanoglu 60), Hauge (Maldini 86); Leao (Ibrahimovic 86)
Torino: Sirigu; Izzo (Zaza 64), Lyanco, Bremer; Singo, Gojak (Linetty 46), Lukic, Rincon (Segre 76), Rodriguez (Murru 64); Verdi, Belotti (Bonazzoli 86)
Ref: Maresca