Milan pushed on in the battle for a top-four Serie A finish as Ismael Bennacer and Theo Hernandez scored in a 2-0 win over Lazio at San Siro.
Stefano Pioli’s side were in full control from the start, although Lazio were masters of their own downfall with the opening goal as Marcos Antonio’s error allowed Bennacero to bundle home.
Hernandez doubled Milan’s advantage before the break with a superb solo effort to help the Rossoneri to fourth in Serie A ahead of Inter’s crucial clash with Roma on Saturday.
However, Milan’s win was marred by the sight of star striker Rafael Lea limping off the pitch early on, with the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg against Inter just four days away.
Having been rested for Wednesday’s draw with Cremonese, Pioli may have regretted naming a more familiar line-up when Leao was withdrawn after just 11 minutes – the striker apparently suffering a groin injury.
Yet Milan made light of his absence when Bennacer pounced on a Lazio mix-up, combined with Olivier Giroud and then volleyed down and over Ivan Provedel.
12 minutes later, Milan doubled their lead from a lightning break. Hernandez received the ball from Mike Maignano near his own penalty area before driving forward to slot home from 20 yards via a slight deflection.
Lazio failed to register a single shot on target before the break and Milan continued to dominate after the break when substitute Malick Thiaw headed in Sandro Tonali’s corner.
Milan were denied a late third when Ante Rebic headed home from an offside position but it mattered little as they warmed up to Wednesday’s Champions League derby in style.
Mike Maignan – 7
As usual, the goalkeeper was extremely effective coming off his line, especially when Ciro Immobile occasionally broke free. However, Milan’s defense also did well limiting Lazio’s shot volume, as the Biancocelsti failed to put even a single shot on target.
Simon Kjaer – 8
The 34-year-old may be on the older side, but he continues to prove that he still as gas in the tank. Throughout his one-half showing, Kjaer won several challenges, provided quality long-range service, and came off the backline well.
Fikayo Tomori – 7
After looking shaky in the opening minutes of the match, Tomori eventually settled into a rhythm.
Davide Calabria – 4.5
Calabria was not at his best, making several errors as he struggled to defend against Mattia Zaccagni on the wing. The winger beat the captain to the byline far too often, playing in dangerous back-passes from the advanced position.
Theo Hernandez – 8.5
Known for his relentless runs on the wing, the defender completed perhaps the best of his career in the first half. Hernandez took the ball on a brilliant solo run from the defensive third to outside of the box, finishing with an incredible long-range strike to double the scoreline.
Rade Krunic – 7
From the central midfield, Krunic provided quality minutes for his side, effectively pressuring Sergej Milinkovic-Savic in the middle third.
Sandro Tonali – 6
Tonali did not see much of the ball, and the young Italian was probably the hosts’ least influential midfielder.
Ismael Bennacer – 8
Just 18 minutes into the match, the midfielder’s high work rate paid off. He forced a turnover on the backline, played a quality one-two with Olivier Giroud, and easily netted the opening goal.
Junior Messias – 6.5
The Brazilian made a few decent plays and kept Milan’s offense flowing, but he lacked accuracy and finesse in the final third.
Rafael Leao – N/A
After dazzling for the first ten minutes of the match, Leao appeared to tweak a muscle in his leg and quickly left the pitch. Hopefully, the substitution was made out of caution and not necessity, as the winger’s absence would be devastating for the upcoming Champions League clash with Inter.
Olivier Giroud – 6
While most of the side had a decent match, Giroud made very little impact on proceedings, though he did pick up an assist on Bennacer’s goal.
Alexis Saelemaekers – 7
Despite playing out of position on the left wing, Saelemaekers impressed after coming on for the injured Leao. He combined well with Hernandez and constantly flashed creativity.
Malick Thiaw – 6
Perhaps wanting to rest Kjaer for the Champions League, Stefano Pioli brought on the defender at halftime. Thiaw did well in relief of the veteran, helping Milan see out the match.
Pierre Kalulu – 7
Another halftime substitution, Kalulu replaced the disappointing Calabria. The defender played a conservative role, almost as a third centre-back.
Ante Rebic – N/A
Fode Ballo-Toure – N/A