Bonfire Night brought good luck to AC Milan and manager Vincenzo Montella, who secured a key win in a modest yet effective performance against tough rivals Sassuolo.
The Neroverdi suffered their seventh league defeat and are now dangerously risking relegation, while Milan showed that they can soon be fully back in the game.
In the first half, Alessio Romagnoli broke the deadlock with a brilliant header, jumping higher than Sassuolo goalkeeper Consigli who made a poor attempt to defend his goal.
The second half saw Spaniard Suso curling a stunner from the left side of the box and double the lead for the Rossoneri, who showed some decent improvements compared to their past games and, at times, looked extremely effective.
Both sides had their destinies depending on this match. The home team started out the season in a rather dramatic way, finding themselves dangerously close to the relegation zone. Meanwhile, AC Milan were living an internal crisis that had manager Vincenzo Montella's job hanging by a thread since his side lost to Juventus last week and drew with AEK Athens in Europa League.
An evident lack of confidence added to the growing pressure prevented both teams from playing high-quality football in the first half that was mainly characterised by several unforced errors, faulty actions and, in the closing moments, Romagnoli's.
The two clubs tried to secure the result as soon as possible, with Milan’s first chance coming in the opening minutes: Calhanoglu delivered an early free-kick, which could have been effective had it not been too central and a Consigli sent it to the corner.
Shortly after Calabria’s exit, due to a problem with the ankle, Sassuolo saw their chances to take the lead fade away thanks to a brilliant save by talented Milan goalkeeper Donnarumma, who parried an insidious right-foot stroke by Mezzitelli.
Milan with another absolutely dreadful start. Enough is enough.— Matteo Bonetti (@TheCalcioGuy) November 5, 2017
A rather interesting chance came for Milan in the closing minutes, when Kessie ran through the right flank and reached the byline, crossed inside and found Kalinic, whose header was parried by Consigli.
Milan’s goal eventually arrived five minutes before the end. Profiting from a corner, Romagnoli jumped higher than everyone else, caught Sassuolo’s keeper unprepared and headed home for Milan’s lead.
The away side showed much more confidence after breaking the deadlock, pressing Sassuolo's defence and improving the quality of play. Captain Bonucci, in particular, made a fairly positive return after returning from a two-match ban and proved essential in a few key clashes against Sassuolo's forwards.
Sassuolo 0-1 AC Milan HT— ThePower (@Geepeeoflife) November 5, 2017
I can't remember last we won a game under Montella, I kno it's just 45mins but this is a big one for me
Milan pursued their aim to double the score fairly well in the second half and threatened Sassuolo's goal on a few occasions. On the 60th minute, Kessi picked up the ball from just outside the box and had a short time to kick: his thump was easily parried. The same happened a few minutes later, when a confused defence let the Ivorian curl the ball towards Consigli, but the goalkeeper had good reflexes and sent it away.
Sassuolo's efforts to counterbalance were completely nulled by Suso's outstanding winner, that gave Milan a double lead. The Spaniard received the ball from the left-hand side, fooled Peluso on the verge of the box and thumped an amazing left-footed stroke right inside of the goal.
Despite the win, there is still a lot to work on for AC Milan. The Rossoneri showed some improvements and, at times, showed some qualitative play, but they were rare and isolated.
Vincenzo Montella can now consider his job safe for the moment despite rumours in Italy would have him about to be sacked by the Rossoneri.
Milan have managed to keep their Champions League dreams alive and currently stand at the eighth place in Serie A.