Coming off an impressive comeback win in the Champions League against Newcastle, AC Milan had to put their focus on Serie A where things had not been rosy.

The game couldn’t have started better with Tijjani Reijnders scoring a wonderful solo goal in the third minute to give Milan the lead after dribbling past several Monza players through the middle, and then Jan-Carlo Simic – who came on for the injured Tommaso Pobega – got his first ever goal for the club.

The second half was more of the same really, and in the 76th minute Noah Okafor scored off the bench to make it 3-0 to Pioli’s side, who also managed to hang onto a clean sheet. Here are five things we observed…

1. Finding his rhythm 

Reijnders was awarded the Man of the Match against Newcastle in the crucial Champions League win and he continued the trend against Monza where he also got the highest rating in our post-game reviews.

It was deservedly so too, given that the Dutchman opened the scoring just three minutes into the game with a confident solo run followed by a very good game overall both defensively and in an attacking sense.

There has been an upturn in his performances after a couple of shaky months, and the Dutchman seems to be growing more and more confident. He has played every game this season, starting all of them bar one, so his importance to Pioli is obvious.

2. Frame the moment

Jan-Carlo Simic was subbed on early in the game replacing Pobega, who picked up an injury and couldn’t continue. The 18-year-old showed some positives during the summer friendlies, but Pioli hasn’t used him up until now which was strange considering the defensive crisis.

Simic, however, got his chance against Monza and did not disappoint. Moreover, he impressed in both phases of the game, scoring his first goal for Milan to help his team double the lead, followed by a solid performance at the back to help Maignan preserve the clean sheet.

It was a very bright and encouraging display by the young centre-back who will be most likely getting more and more minutes in the months to come.

3. Questionable choice

Oliver Giroud found himself in the starting XI yet again despite Luka Jovic impressing in the last few games, which could be regarded as a weird choice by Pioli.

Whilst Giroud has been scoring some critical goals, he certainly doesn’t need to be playing every game from the start especially when Jovic has finally found his rhythm and is contributing to goals.

The Frenchman did pick up an assist but other than that he did very little on the pitch as the coach will eventually have to trust the Serbian a bit more, otherwise he might lose the momentum he worked hard to build.

4. Bittersweet symphony

Noah Okafor had a positive display against Newcastle and managed to build on that against Monza, scoring a goal shortly after coming onto the pitch with a lovely sweeping shot into the bottom corner.

Unfortunately for him, the celebration was cut short as he picked up an injury, which hopefully won’t be a serious one but is still enough to potentially ruin the continuity that the Swiss international was finding.

Hopefully it’s nothing serious as the player himself said after the game, and the former RB Salzburg man can continue his upward trend as he has helped his team the last couple of games.

5. Looking sharper

Ismael Bennacer started on the bench but after coming helped in the setup to the third goal and he did what we know he can do well: hold the ball, soak up the pressure and provide the front line with some good passes.

Obviously, he still isn’t fit enough to play a full 90 minutes let alone be at peak form, but the does look better with every game he participates in.

Pioli will be hoping for a fully fit Bennacer in the new year which will be a massive boost for Milan midfield that has struggled quite a bit this season.


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