SERIE A MATCH REPORT

Serie A Week 19 - 23 Jan 2021 (17.00 UK)
Milan 0 - 3 Atalanta
Romero 25 (A), Ilicic pen 53 (A), Duvan Zapata 77 (A)
Stadio Giuseppe Meazza

Milan suffered their heaviest defeat of the season, as Atalanta put in a dominant performance to win 3-0 at San Siro, but are still crowned Winter Champions.

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The Rossoneri needed a point to be sure of the Winter Champion title, but while Theo Hernandez, Ante Rebic and Rade Krunic returned from COVID, Alessio Romagnoli and Alexis Saelemaekers were suspended, with Hakan Calhanoglu still unwell, Ismael Bennacer and Matteo Gabbia injured. New signings Mario Mandzukic and Fikayo Tomori were on the bench, with Soualiho Meite given his first start in a more advanced trequartista role. La Dea were unbeaten at San Siro since January 2014 and the only injury was Mario Pasalic, as Papu Gomez and Cristiano Piccini are on their way out. They came into this fixture off back-to-back draws with Genoa and Udinese.

It was a very aggressive start from the hosts, Rafael Leao with a solo run for Theo Hernandez, who rolled across only for Berat Djimsiti to block Zlatan Ibrahimovic from six yards.

Hans Hateboer’s counter-attack was deflected onto the side-netting by Franck Kessie, then he had a cross-shot sting Gianluigi Donnarumma’s gloves at the near post.

Josip Ilicic then scuffed a couple of opportunities wide when he should’ve done better, including one where he hit a fresh-air shot when sent clear.

The goal had been coming and it arrived from a corner, which was taken short, the Robin Gosens cross whipped in for Cristian Romero to shrug off Pierre Kalulu, the diving header squirming between Donnarumma’s legs from close range.

La Dea were dominating the first half and Ilicic’s free kick burst through the wall to sting Donnarumma’s gloves.

Yet Milan should’ve equalised on the stroke of half-time, a long Sandro Tonali free kick going past everyone to find Ibrahimovic at the back post, somehow prodding wide with his knee.

Davide Calabria breathed a sigh of relief, as a foul was given against Duvan Zapata, who had caught him in possession. At the other end, there was a not dissimilar situation when Pierluigi Gollini fumbled, but the foul was given against Ibrahimovic.

Using Meite in the trequartista role was a failed experiment, so Brahim Diaz came on for the second half.

However, Atalanta received a penalty when Franck Kessie lashed out with an elbow on Ilicic’s lip while trying to get a high ball. With blood seeping from his lip, Ilicic converted low to squirm the ball under Donnarumma and double their lead.

To make matters even worse, Kalulu was stretchered off after a knock to the back, replaced by Mateo Musacchio rather than Fikayo Tomori.

Duvan Zapata’s diving header didn’t make the most of an Ilicic cross, turning over, then Ilicic’s angled drive whistled wide.

Milan changed after their substitutions, as Mario Mandzukic came on for his debut and almost scored a minute later, his shot from close range forcing a desperate Pierluigi Gollini save.

Duvan Zapata was unlucky not to get Atalanta’s third goal, as he deflected a corner onto the inside of the far post.

It was coming and Duvan Zapata ran onto a Romero slide-rule pass, allowed the time and space to pick his spot, firing past Donnarumma at the back stick.

Brahim Diaz skimmed the woodwork in stoppages, but the good news came from Udine, where Inter were held 0-0. It means Milan still take the Winter Champions title.

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Milan: G Donnarumma; Calabria, Kalulu (Musacchio 57), Kjaer, Theo Hernandez; Kessie, Tonali; Castillejo (Mandzukic 70), Meite (Brahim Diaz 46), Leao (Rebic 70); Ibrahimovic
Atalanta: Gollini; Toloi, Romero, Djimsiti (Caldara 91); Hateboer (Maehle 67), De Roon, Freuler, Gosens (Palomino 91); Pessina (Malinovskyi 90); Ilicic (Muriel 82), Duvan Zapata
Ref: Mariani