AC Milan edged their way to a 2-1 Serie A victory over Bologna at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara on Sunday afternoon, as Gennaro Gattuso’s side held on to a narrow lead to claim the three points.
After a slow paced start to the match, Hakan Çalhanoğlu gave his side the lead with a powerful strike from the edge of the penalty area. Bologna thought they’d equalised minutes later, but Riccardo Orsolini’s goal was ruled out by VAR after a handball in the box. Giacomo Bonaventura doubled the visitor’s lead before half time with a perfectly placed strike.
Sebastian De Maio’s towering header pulled a goal back for the hosts to set up a thrilling finale, but Bologna were unable to force an equaliser despite a late attacking surge.
The visitors started brightly, with veteran centre-back Leonardo Bonucci calmly stroking the ball across the backline as Bologna looked to press their opponents high up the field. The visitors remained patient, and looked to frustrate Roberto Donadoni’s side with their leisurely build-up play.
After a turgid opening, the game sprang to life in the 13th minute, as Rodrigo Palacio danced his way into the Milan penalty area, before jabbing a tentative shot at goal that was well blocked by Cristián Zapata. Bologna continued to threaten, and Andrea Poli hammered a shot over the bar from a tight angle ten yards away from goal.
The hosts had the first shot on target midway through the first half, as set-piece specialist Simeone Verdi dipped a 25-yard free kick over the Milan wall, which was comfortably held by Gianluigi Donnarumma. The teenage giant was called in action moments later – scooping up Ibrahima Mbaye’s deflected effort with ease.
In the 34th minute, Milan took he lead against the run of play with a stunning goal. Picking the ball up at the edge of the area, Çalhanoğlu burst onto Patrick Cutrone’s lay-off, before powering a trademark effort low into the bottom corner of the net. Bologna thought they’d equalised in the 37th minute, but Riccardo Orsolini’s scrambled effort was ruled out for handball in the build up.
Milan doubled their lead in the 45th minute, as a defensive lapse by Erick Pulgar allowed Giacomo Bonaventura acres of space in the area. The Italian international performed some stunning stopovers, before using Ádám Nagy as a shield to guide a vicious shot across goal and into the corner of Antonio Mirante’s far post.
The visitors started the second half looking to continue their dominance of the game, with Franck Kessié causing Bologna all manner of problems with his powerful, surging runs through midfield. I Rossoneri began to run riot, and Cutrone hit the post after a flowing counter-attack, before Suso’s follow up was well held by Mirante.
As the game approached the hour mark, Suso missed a sitter for the hosts. Kessié opened the Bologna defence up with a cross field ball, before Çalhanoğlu burst into the box and laid the ball off to the unmarked Suso at the back post – who leaned back and sprayed his shot over the bar.
Suso was at the heart of all Milan’s attacking endeavours, and the tenacious Spaniard provided a glorious opportunity for Cutrone after waving his way through the area, but a stunning stop from Mirante denied the academy star a goal. Palacio then drove a shot just wide of Donnarumma’s far post, with a deflection almost seeing the ball creep passed the keeper.
From the resulting corner, Palacio’s scuffed effort from five yards out was cleared off the line by Davide Calabria. Bonaventura then rattled the crossbar from the edge of the box, after being given time on the ball to pick his spot and bend a swerving effort at the Bologna goal. The hosts then pegged a goal back in the 74th minute, as De Maio crashed a towering header into the Milan net.
The home fans were suddenly alive, and Mbaye drew an important save from Donnarumma moments later after finding himself unmarked at the back post. Milan edged their way over the line to claim the win, which ended their run of six matches without a victory. I Rossoneri still face a battle to qualify for Europe, but should have enough about them to secure a place in next season’s Europa League competition.