AC Milan

AC Milan 2-0 Atalanta: Player ratings as Rossoneri take giant step towards Scudetto

Max Parsons
The heroes and their admirers
The heroes and their admirers / MIGUEL MEDINA/GettyImages

AC Milan took a huge step to securing the Serie A title on Sunday evening, as second-half strikes from Rafael Leao and Theo Hernandez earned them a 2-0 victory over Atalanta.

The Portuguese winger scored to continue his splendid individual campaign before the full-back notched a solo goal to remember to take Milan a whole lot closer to winning their first Scudetto in 11 years - it wasn't all plain sailing against La Dea, though.

The hosts started the better side but, to the soundtrack of a bouncing San Siro, built play nicely without ever threatening their visitors' goal too much in the early stages.

Leao and Alexis Saelemaekers forced Juan Musso to break a sweat with fairly tame efforts on target, but I Rossoneri failed to make their pressure count before the half-time whistle - although might have done from the penalty spot only for Olivier Giroud's 42nd-minute claim to be rather harshly turned down by the referee and a subsequent VAR review.

A rather surprising drought of goals in the game was finally ended ten minutes after the resumption of play.

Minutes after Hernandez had got the crowd on its feet with a free-kick that grazed the outside of the side netting, Leao notched an opener that got the supporters up and made them stay up. Racing through on goal to latch onto Junior Messias' brilliantly lofted through ball, the talismanic winger kept his composure and slotted home through the legs of an onrushing Musso.

Hernandez would eventually get the San Siro bouncing for good with 15 minutes left on the clock - and in some style.

The Frenchman scored one of the goals of the season, picking the ball up halfway inside his own half, riding several challenges as he bulldozed his way up the pitch, and sliding the ball with the coolness of a seasoned marksman into the opposition's bottom corner to seal a gargantuan result.

Showing their credentials as champions, Milan proceeded to keep their cool and see out a result that takes them onto 82 points and gives city rivals Inter no option but to win their remaining fixtures to have a chance of preventing I Rossoneri from lifting their first Scudetto in over a decade (Inter travel to Cagliari on Sunday night).

Here's how the players rated from an excellent evening...

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

GK: Mike Maignan - 7/10 - Showed his quality with a great stop in either half while also demonstrating top reflexes, pace and distribution - a brilliant goalkeeper.

RB: Davide Calabria - 4/10 - Maintained an advanced position to provide a presence - although rarely a threat - upfield but was, for the most part, non-existent defensively.

CB: Pierre Kalulu - 8/10 - Coped well considering the lack of support he received from his full-back, making a whopping seven tackles and four interceptions.

CB: Fikayo Tomori - 7/10 -
Really composed and resolute display, reading danger perfectly to keep things tight and stable at the back.

LB: Theo Hernandez - 9/10 -
Excellent defensive display but the highlight of his performance was obviously that goal. Wow - that gets a 9/10 on its own.

CM: Sandro Tonali - 6/10 - Great energy to help his colleagues out on the back foot but had a disappointingly quiet evening at the other end given his recent form.

CM: Franck Kessie - 7/10 - Anchored the midfield strongly, just sitting back and screening the back four resiliently, managing six ball recoveries.

CM: Rade Krunic - 6/10 -
Worked industriously and floated around between midfield and the forward line well, often finding pockets of space but only occasionally capitalising on them.

RW: Alexis Saelemaekers - 5/10 -
Really bright in the early stages but rather annoyingly opted to hang onto the ball for too long on numerous occasions. Hooked off before the hour mark after he'd faded out of the game.

ST: Olivier Giroud - 5/10 -
Received little service throughout and cut a frustrated figure - especially after seeing his reasonable penalty claim waved away. Withdrawn alongside Saelemaekers.

LW: Rafael Leao - 8/10 -
Caused panic with his pace and strength and eventually made it count with a brilliantly taken opener.

SUB: Ante Rebic (55' for Giroud) - 6/10 - Gave the Atalanta defence more to think about with an injection of pace and power.

SUB: Junior Messias (55' for Saelemaekers) - 7/10 -
Fantastic ball to assist the opener immediately after being introduced.

SUB: Ismael Bennacer (63' for Tonali) - 6/10 - Helped plug gaps in midfield and keep things ticking along calmly.

SUB: Tiemoue Bakayoko (79' for Krunic) - 6/10

SUB: Alessandro Florenzi (80' for Calabria) - 6/10