Milan extended their 100 per cent start to the Serie A season with a 3-0 win over newly-promoted Spezia at San Siro on Sunday.
Six players kept their places after Thursday’s penalty shoot-out win over Rio Ave in the Europa League, and a lack of freshness was apparent in the first half, with Milan struggling to break down their less illustrious opponents.
They looked sharper at the start of the second period, though, and duly went ahead shortly before the hour mark when Rafael Leao prodded home from close range.
Theo Hernandez added a second in the 76th minute before Leao made sure of all three points with another predatory strike two minutes later, as Milan made it three wins from three.
goals to seal our third win of the new #SerieATIM campaign
3 gol, 3 punti e imbattuti alla sosta: vittoria nel segno del #MilanSpezia #SempreMilan pic.twitter.com/qfyFiuGMlV
— AC Milan (@acmilan) October 4, 2020
After a largely dismal opening period, the game burst into life on the stroke of half-time.
First, Alexis Saelemaekers blazed over from 15 yards after being teed up by Davide Calabria, while at the other end Gianluigi Donnarumma pawed away Daniele Verde’s powerful strike.
Milan belatedly woke from their slumber at the start of the second period and were rewarded with the opener 12 minutes after the resumption when Leao stole in at the back post to stab home Hakan Calhanoglu’s teasing free-kick.
Donnarumma made a smart stop from Kevin Agudelo before Hernandez doubled Milan’s advantage, the French full-back racing forward from just inside the opposition half and drilling past Rafael from 15 yards.
That knocked the stuffing out of Spezia and Milan added a third shortly after when Leao met Franck Kessie’s headed knock-down with a simple finish inside the six-yard box to wrap up an ultimately routine win.
What does it mean? Pioli’s young guns continue to shine
It was not pretty but another three points means Milan have now gone 15 games unbeaten in Serie A. Stefano Pioli will take particular pleasure that the average age of his starting XI was 22 years and 287 days; the youngest in Serie A since Opta started collecting such data in 2004-05.
The future certainly looks bright for the Rossoneri.
22, 287 – #ACMilan average age against #Spezia is the youngest in #SerieA since 2004/05 (since Opta have these data): 22 years and 287 days. Future.#MilanSpezia
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) October 4, 2020
Leao effective when it mattered
Pioli predicted that the Portuguese youngster could be ready to “explode” this season. There was nothing explosive about his all-round play – his 11 completed passes was the second fewest of any of Milan’s starters – but if he continues to show the predatory instinct that brought about his goals then his boss will not care.
Colombo fails to impress
Lorenzo Colombo struggled on his first Serie A start for Milan. The 18-year-old failed to register a shot on target and made just three successful passes before he was hauled off at half-time.
Key Opta Facts
– Milan have won each of their first three Serie A games of the season without conceding goals for the third time in their history, after 1971-72 under Nereo Rocco and 1952-53 under Mario Sperone.
– Hernandez is the youngest defender to have netted at least seven goals since the start of 2019-20 in the top five European Leagues.
– In his last 12 matches with Milan in all competitions, Calhanoglu has been involved in 17 goals (eight goals and nine assists).
– Leao scored his first brace in either Serie A or Ligue 1.
Milan face a derby clash with Inter following the international break, while Spezia will host Fiorentina.