Juventus continue their record start to a Serie A campaign as they won comfortably in the San Siro on Sunday night.
AC Milan entered the game with a few injury problems and despite their home advantage, they still looked miles behind the league leaders Juventus.
It was a game of few clear cut opportunities but Juventus took both of theirs. Firstly Mario Mandzukic climbed highest at the back post following a cross from Alex Sandro which gave the Bianconeri the lead in just the eighth minute. The Rossoneri's first effort on goal did not come until the 33rd minute but they were given a lifeline when the referee awarded a penalty at the end of the first half.
Wojciech Szczesny seemingly did his homework as he guessed the right way and parried Gonzalo Higuain's effort on to the right post. Juventus would then keep Milan at arms length until Joao Cancelo's late effort would be pushed out by Gianluigi Donnarumma in to the path of Cristiano Ronaldo who made it 2-0.
To make matters worse for Gennaro Gattuso, Higuain was then sent off after he was given a second yellow card for protesting the first one he received for a late challenge on Medhi Benatia.
Key Talking Point
Milan's injury woes meant they would always be up against it on Sunday night. Despite conceding an early goal, the Rossoneri had a great opportunity to enter the dressing room at half-time all level. Referee Mazzoleni awarded a penalty on the 40-minute mark after he judged that Benatia handled the ball following a consultation with VAR.
This was Milan's golden opportunity considering that they had only managed one shot on goal at that point in the game. Ronaldo quickly spoke to Szczesny gesturing which way Higuain would go. Needless to say Higuain's former teammate would help his former team deny him as Szczesny would fly down to his right, clawing the effort on to the post. If that had went in maybe Milan could have caused more problems for the reigning Italian champions.
Starting XI: Donnarumma (6); Abate (5), Zapata (7), Romagnoli (6), Rodriguez (6); Suso (5), Kessie (6), Bakayoko (7), Calhanoglu (4); Higuain (4), Castillejo (5)
Substitutes: Cutrone (6), Borini (5), Laxalt (6)
Star Man - Cristian Zapata
The Colombian defender struggled when he first returned to the team last week against Udinese, but he was far and away Milan's best player on Sunday night. He largely kept Ronaldo and Paolo Dybala quiet and if not for some good last minute challengers his team may have found themselves on the wrong side of a heavier defeat.
Worst Player - Gonzalo Higuain
The Argentine forward had a night to forget against his former team. Firstly he missed the penalty which would have put Milan back on level terms. Then he was awarded two quick yellow cards ruling him out of next week's game against Lazio.
Feel bad for Higuain. Such a massive occasion for him personally, a missed penalty, a frustrating outing, and then a meltdown.— Matteo Bonetti (@TheCalcioGuy) November 11, 2018
The experienced 30-year-old striker struggled throughout the entire game. He was poor holding the ball up and didn't receive much service. On the odd occasion he found himself in space, he was wasteful. Then, born out of frustration, he fouled Benatia needlessly before being penalised for dissent regarding the same incident after he protested profusely to the referee.
Key Talking Point
Juventus might have anticipated a difficult night. Milan are in reasonably form and even with their injuries they were able to field a strong team at home. The early signs were that Milan would try and sit deep and this could have undoubtedly caused Juventus some problems if the game progressed in that manner.
Alex Sandro given all the time and space in the world to pick his cross. Mandzukic send Rodriguez back to Switzerland before scoring. Appalling defending. Being outclassed by a better team is one thing, getting your basics wrong is entirely another issue. #MilanJuventus— Rajath Kumar (@rajathkumar) November 11, 2018
However, Mandzukic's early goal really allowed them to take control of the fixture, keeping the Rossoneri at arm's length all night. The forward rose highest at the back post following a great cross by Alex Sandro and it left Donnarumma with no chance in goal.
Starting XI: Szczesny (8); Cancelo (7), Benatia (7), Chiellini (6), Alex Sandro (7); Bentancur (6), Pjanic (7), Matuidi (6); Dybala (6), Mandzukic (8), Ronaldo (8)
Substitutes: Khedira (6), Costa (6)
Star Man - Mario Mandzukic
The Croatian forward turned in one of his vintage displays. He firstly scored the winning goal in just the eighth minute in trademark fashion. He peeled on to the full-back at the back post and once the ball was delivered with enough pace and beyond the goalkeeper then there was only going to be one favourite. That marked his fifth goal this season, the same amount he managed in the whole of last year.
However as many will know, Mandzukic offers much more than being just a goal threat. He seemed to pop up all over the pitch when needed and his work rate was outstanding.
Worst Player - Blaise Matuidi
Matuidi was by no means poor on Sunday, he was just not as good as his teammates. The Bianconeri exerted control over the game and never really seemed in trouble barring the penalty. The Frenchman worked extremely hard but was occasionally poor on the ball. However this was not the type of game which suited his defensive skill set.
After making it 11 wins out of a possible 12 in Serie A, Juventus face Spal in the next round of the league. However, they then enter a tough stretch facing Fiorentina, Inter, Torino, Roma and Atalanta in their next five league games.
Milan on the other hand need to pick themselves up as quickly as possible because they travel to the Stadio Olimpico after the break to face Lazio. However, things should get easier after that so they will have the opportunity to pick up any lost points.