AC Milan

AC Milan 1-0 Fiorentina: Player ratings as Rossoneri take huge step towards Serie A title

Jude Summerfield
Leao netted a massive winner for Milan
Leao netted a massive winner for Milan / Marco Luzzani/GettyImages

AC Milan left it late to secure a crucial victory over Fiorentina on Sunday as Rafael Leao's strike took their lead at the top of Serie A to five points.

The hosts had squandered a host of opportunities but were then gifted the opener in the 82nd minute when La Viola goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano played the ball straight to Leao, who kept his composure to run in and finish.

Fiorentina flew out of the traps early on as Arthur Cabral's overhead kick was blocked by the home defence inside the first minute.

Milan then had the ball in the back of the net through Theo Hernandez's lovely finish, but Junior Messias was offside in the build-up.

Cristiano Biraghi's corner then found Igor who lashed an effort millimetres wide before Hernandez wasted a decent chance, striking the side-netting from a tight angle.

Striker Olivier Giroud was the next to spurn an opening in an end-to-end first 20 minutes, clipping an attempted effort wide when through on goal.

Such an open game would not have been Stefano Pioli's choice pre-game. Milan's Serie A title charge looks set to go to the wire, with both Inter and Napoli breathing down their neck.

Chances continued to be wasted at the start of the second half as Rafael Leao smashed one over the bar following nice work from Brahim Diaz and Giroud.

Substitutes Rade Krunic and Ante Rebic livened Milan up a tad, with veteran striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic introduced with 25 minutes to go as Pioli's side looked to break the deadlock.

A break down the left saw Hernandez find Rebic on the penalty spot, but the Croatian's scuffed shot was cleared off the line. At the other end, Mike Maignan was needed to claw away and then catch an Arthur Cabral header.

It was Terracciano who helped break the stalemate, with his poor clearance landing straight at Leao's feet. The Portugal international went on his own to great effect, curling into the far corner to send San Siro into raptures.

The victory takes AC Milan five points clear of rivals Inter, who face Udinese later on Sunday.

AC Milan player ratings vs Fiorentina

1. AC Milan (4-2-3-1)

Rafael Leao, Theo Hernandez
Joy for Milan / Marco Luzzani/GettyImages

GK: Mike Maignan - 7/10 - Made some important saves in the first half. One reflex stop from Cabral was particularly impressive.

RB: Davide Calabria - 7/10 - Given some problems by Saponara but also provided a good attacking outlet on the right.

CB: Pierre Kalulu - 7/10 - Rarely misplaced a pass from the back. Excellent in the face of forceful Fiorentina pressure in patches.

CB: Fikayo Tomori - 7/10 - Nice and sturdy in defence, also knocking forward some nice long passes.

LB: Theo Hernandez - 7/10 - Had the ball in the back of the net but it was disallowed for offside. Stuck a similar opportunity into the side-netting.

CM: Franck Kessie - 7/10 - Lovely pass set up a glorious chance for Giroud and also displayed good defensive awareness.

CM: Sandro Tonali - 7/10 - Excellent block denied Duncan. Recovered the ball frequently in midfield, making for interceptions.

RW: Junior Messias - 5/10 - A goal was chalked off as he had wandered offside in the build-up. Didn't offer much in attack.

AM: Brahim Diaz - 6/10 - Some nice twists and turns to get into space but couldn't unlock the Fiorentina with any of his passing.

LW: Rafael Leao - 8/10 - One of Milan's most threatening players and kept his cool when Terracciano gave him an opportunity. Now Milan's leading league goalscorer with ten strikes.

ST: Olivier Giroud - 6/10 - Missed one great opportunity from a great Kessie pass. Linked play nicely, bringing his attacking colleagues into play.

SUB: Rade Krunic (56' for Diaz) - 6/10 - Upped the intensity with his introduction. Didn't have too many touches during his 30-minute cameo.

SUB: Ante Rebic (56' for Messias) - 6/10 - Good opportunity to score but mishit his effort.

SUB: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (67' for Giroud) - 5/10

SUB: Ismael Bennacer (79' for Kessie) - N/A