In a game that flipped back and forth, young substitute Patrick Cutrone found himself the hero as AC Milan toppled Roma 2-1 in the final minute on Friday night at San Siro.
The deadlock was broken in the 40th minute, as I Rossoneri’s top class build up play was rewarded with a beautiful goal. A fantastic Giacomo Bonaventura through ball found Ricardo Rodriguez, who swivelled to fire a thunderous pass down the corridor of uncertainly. Arriving late at the back stick was Ivorian Franck Kessie, who swept home into an empty net.
However, the second 45 started off with a completely different story. Roma changed formation from 3-5-2 to 4-3-3, and they improved greatly. After fifteen minutes of concerted pressure it was Federico Fazio who found the net.
Only sixty seconds later, it looked as if the game of ebbs and flows had once again turned its tide. A sensational fifty yard pass from Bonaventura found Higuain, who rounded Oslen to slide home. Although, as the Serie A has adopted VAR, the goal was disallowed for a marginal offside – with Steven Nzonzi having a strike of his own chalked off shortly afterward.
Then, with the last kick, youngster Partick Cutrone stepped up. In the final minute of additional time, Gattuso’s substitute found himself in space after a coolly slotted through ball from Higuain. Away from a weary Daniele De Rossi, the 20-year-old fired past Olsen to send the Curva Sud wild.
Key Talking Point
Even though the game was won with seconds to go, it would have been a very different story if Serie A didn’t employ video assistant referees.
Correctly disallowing two goals in tonight’s match, the polarising system showed its beneficial side.
With neither team really complaining about the calls, it was clear that referee Marco Guida had an easy night thanks to the help of Paolo Mazzoleni upstairs.
Higuain rolled away in happiness after his finish, and it was likely the decision would’ve stood if not for the eagle eye of VAR. Inches offside, it was a call that the linesman couldn’t be scolded for missing.
As for Nzonzi’s goal, his reaction did slightly give it away. However, with the ability to take his time and check it over on the pitch side screen, Guida correctly denied the finish. Without the option to review, he could well have seen himself surrounded by all colours of shirts.
Starting XI (4-3-3): Donnarumma (6); Calabria (5), Musacchio (7), Romagnoli (7), Rodriguez (8); Kessie (7), Biglia (6), Bonaventura (8*); Suso (6), Higuain (7), Calhanoglu (6)
Substitutes: Laxalt (6), Castillejo (5), Cutrone (8)
Star Man – Giacomo Bonaventura
Controlling the play with his technical mastery, the midfielder helped create the first goal with an incredible line ball to Ricardo Rodriguez. Fantastic throughout, he also guided in what would’ve been a majestic assist for Higuain, if the number nine had not found himself offside.
A special mention has to be given to Patrick Cutrone also, as any match winning goal can make you a star. However, the striker was only on the pitch for a mere ten minutes, whereas Bonaventura set the tempo for the game’s duration.
Worst Player – Davide Calabria
Not covering himself in glory for Roma’s goal. the centre-back’s sliced clearance landed straight at the feet of scorer Federico Fazio.
Apart from that, Calabria was okay, but never involved himself in the game. There were no outstanding tackles or passes, therefore the only thing that really stands out was his mistake.
Starting XI (3-4-2-1): Olsen (7); Manolas (6), Fazio (7*), Marcano (5); Karsdorp (6), De Rossi (5), Nzonzi (6), Kolarov (6); Pastore (5), Schick (6); Dzeko (6)
Substitutes: El Shaarawy (5), Cristante (7), Santon (6)
Star Man – Federico Fazio
Roma’s scorer, Fazio had a solid game all round. Not at fault for either goals that were conceded, he once again showed his ability to give I Giallorossi an extra dimension in attack.
Defensively, the away side will look to improve as a whole unit, but Fazio’s leadership after a change to four at the back was noticeable.
Worst Player – Ivan Marcano
Subbed at half time, Marcano was caught ball-watching for Kessie’s goal. Failing to pick up the Ivorian’s late burst, he left Olsen with an impossible save to make.
As manager Eusebio Di Francesco changed the formation at the break, Roma greatly improved. Possibly a tactical error to start the way they did, I Giallorossi’s back line solidified after Marcano’s removal.
Milan will be happy they’ve put things right after squandering a lead to Napoli last time out. Fantastic in stages, consistency throughout 90 minutes has to be the objective for their next clash against Cagliari.
As for Roma, the travelling side will be bitterly disappointed to lose this game in such a manner. After a 3-3 draw against Atalanta the week previous, coach Di Francesco needs defensive stability going forward if they are to challenge Juventus for the Scudetto.