Giroud on target as Milan defeat Torino to go top of Serie A table
AC Milan took full advantage of Napoli’s Sunday draw with Roma as the Rossoneri beat Torino 1-0 in Serie A thanks to Olivier Giroud’s stunning goal, the win putting them top of the table on Tuesday.
Napoli’sgoallessdraw with Roma at the weekend meant the Partenopei only sat at the top of the pile thanks to goal difference, but Milan just about got the job done at San Siro to go first at least until Thursday when Napoli will be in action.
Giroud’s early effort was one of few open chances in the entire match, with the Frenchman becoming only the second player in the last century and Serie A’s era to score in his first three home league appearances for Milan doing so after Mario Balotelli in 2013.
For the better part of the match, Torino looked the better side but their inability to consistently worry the Milan defense meant the hosts were able to hold on to a slender victory.
A scrappy opening was devoid of excitement, but Milan went ahead with their first meaningful attack in the 14th minute, as Giroud met Rade Krunic’s flick-on and tapped in from close range.
It was not until the final action of the first half that Milan went close again, with Krunic getting another header away, although this time it landed just wide with Giroud not there to guide it in. Andrea Belotti let Milan off the hook early in the second period when his mishit shot asked little of Ciprian Tatarusanu.
The visitors came on strong towards the end, with Tonny Sanabria forcing a necessary save from Tatarusanu and Dennis Praet’s, deflected effort clipping the top of the crossbar, but it was too little, too late.
While the win puts Milan top at least until Napoli faces Bologna on Thursday, their performance was hardly an emphatic statement.
The Giroud goal aside, Milan never really looked like scoring, their cumulative expected goals figure was 1.1, though 0.8 of that was attributed to the France forward’s tap-in.
Thankfully for them, once Pierre Kalulu went off at the break, Milan was mostly solid in defense, with Torino restricted to only one major opportunity.
Deployed at left-back from the start, the youngster was withdrawn at the break after struggling in the first half. He was careless in possession on several occasions and just never looked an assuring presence defensively, particularly once he was booked.
It was a match with few standout performances in truth, but Sandro Tonali did catch the eye. He was one of only two Milan players to play more than one key pass (two) and he worked hard throughout his 65 minutes on the pitch – his 14 duels were bettered by only three team-mates, all of whom played at least 22 more minutes
Both sides will be back in action the weekend. A trip to Jose Mourinho’s Roma awaits Milan on Sunday. Torino host Sampdoria the day before.