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Milan's flying start, bright future

Serie A
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Sumeet Paul blog profile  By Sumeet Paul

Keisuke Honda impresses as AC Milan extend unbeaten run vs. Torino

A first-half strike from Luca Antonelli was all that separated AC Milan and Torino at the San Siro on Saturday night, as the Rossoneri made it 11 games unbeaten in all competitions with a 1-0 win.

With Riccardo Montolivo missing through suspension and Alessio Romagnoli still not fit enough to feature, Sinisa Mihajlovic was forced into changes. However, his side were up to the task as they produced another combative display to get the better of the Granata.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the performance was their ability to press high and take a proactive approach in the game. The energetic display from the team as a whole was certainly a positive for Mihajlovic as he continues to push towards a Champions League spot.

Following Roma's win over Empoli earlier on Saturday evening, it was crucial that Milan were able to keep the pressure on their rivals above them. The win over Torino ensures that they remain six points adrift of the Giallorossi, while they moved just a point behind city rivals Inter ahead of the remaining fixtures this weekend.

AC MilanAC Milan
TorinoTorino
1
0
FT
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Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Gianluigi Donnarumma, 7 -- Having celebrated his 17th birthday earlier this week, the youngster continued to show maturity and focus beyond his years with crucial stops to deny the likes of Ciro Immobile.

DF Ignazio Abate, 7 -- Handed the captain's armband, the Italy international produced a solid performance down the right flank as he dealt with the threat from Torino well and worked hard to join in attacks.

DF Alex, 6 -- Another calming performance from the experienced veteran, as he kept Andrea Belotti under wraps for the most part and helped play a part in Milan keeping another important clean sheet.

DF Cristian Zapata, 7 -- With Romagnoli still missing, the Colombia international is making a solid case to keep his place in the side moving forward. Perhaps not as impressive as he was against Napoli, but he was commanding again.

DF Luca Antonelli, 7 - A great defensive performance, capped off with what proved to be the winning goal as he found himself in the right place at the right time to hammer home his second goal of the season.

MF Keisuke Honda, 7 -- The Japan international continues to put his previous struggles firmly in the past as he has emerged as a real leader for the Rossoneri. Unfortunate not to score with a free kick that struck the crossbar in the first half, but was a constant danger cutting in from the right using his trickery on the ball to great effect.

MF Juraj Kucka, 7 -- As energetic and combative as ever from Kucka as he played an important role in ensuring Milan won the midfield battle. The defensive solidity that he offers is crucial, as is his ability to drive forward from the middle.

AC Milan celebrate their winner against Torino.

MF Andrea Bertolacci, 6 -- A smart performance from the Italian, as he did well defensively in winning back possession and maintained a sense of control for the hosts. His distribution could have perhaps been better, but a decent effort nonetheless.

MF Giacomo Bonaventura, 6 -- A quiet night for the playmaker in comparison to the usual influence that he has on the team. Almost scored with a great effort in the first half, but he will certainly have a bigger impact moving forward.

FW M'Baye Niang, 5 -- Full of running as his pace and strength caused problems for Torino at times, but again lacked the decisive decision-making in the final third. Having failed to offer enough, he will hope to improve in the coming weeks.

FW Carlos Bacca, 5 -- The club's top goalscorer was not involved much, although that was arguably down to the lack of real service that he was offered. Had a goal ruled out for offside in the second half, and other than that it was another disappointing game for him.

Substitutes

MF Kevin-Prince Boateng, 5 -- Not the greatest of contributions from the substitute with just over 20 minutes remaining in the game. Nevertheless, he played his part in protecting Milan's lead.

FW Mario Balotelli, N/A -- Not enough time for the Italian striker to make an impression.

Sumeet Paul covers AC Milan for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @SP_Calcio.

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