Bacca's last-minute goal lifts sluggish Milan past Cagliari
AC Milan left it late but they secured all three points with a 1-0 win over Cagliari at the San Siro on Sunday. Carlos Bacca was the hero as he produced a composed finish to seal the win as the Rossoneri move back up to fifth place in Serie A with a game in hand on most of their rivals.
The major positives were undoubtedly the late goal and Milan keeping their defensive concentration. The Rossoneri would have lost games like this last season, but they stayed alert at the back and continued to probe.
Cagliari had conceded 42 goals in 18 games prior to Sunday, and yet Milan never really looked like scoring and making this comfortable. Aside from a bright start to the encounter, they lost their way and showed no real quality or composure in the final third.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Vincenzo Montella rarely gets criticism as he continues to pick up positive results almost every week. However, he took too long to make his changes on Sunday and while Gianluca Lapadula's introduction was key, it was a surprise to see it happen so late and also to see that certain individuals were still on the pitch at full-time.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Gianluigi Donnarumma, 6 -- Rarely troubled by a Cagliari side that didn't pose much of an attacking threat. Commanded his box well though and was alert when called upon as he made his 50th appearance for the club at just 17 years of age.
DF Ignazio Abate, 6 -- The acting Milan captain started the game well but was forced off just before the half-hour mark following a terrible challenge from Bruno Alves. Hopefully his injury isn't serious.
DF Gabriel Paletta, 7 -- The experienced defender was always in command of the situation as he provided Milan with a solid base. Composed in possession, alert to any danger, the 30-year-old was in fine form.
DF Alessio Romagnoli, 7 -- Like Paletta, the young Italian was defensively solid and as always was crucial in building play from the back and setting Milan on their way. Not the busiest of games from a defensive perspective, but he showed his maturity and improving focus for the full 90 minutes.
DF Mattia De Sciglio, 7 -- The versatile full-back deserves credit for showing that a change of flank didn't bother him at all. Further, De Sciglio was the only player pushing the tempo and putting himself about in the second half and it was much more like it from him.
MF Mario Pasalic, 6 -- From a positive perspective, he was a physical presence in midfield and covered ground well to give Milan a sense of control in the game. However, the quality on the ball wasn't there on Sunday and his side needed it.
MF Manuel Locatelli, 7 -- A very mature display on his 19th birthday, as he provided excellent defensive coverage for his back four while keeping the ball ticking over and pushing Milan forward. Rarely off target with his distribution and is brilliant at intricate little passes that get Milan on the front foot.
MF Giacomo Bonaventura, 5 -- There was an incredibly rare sight on Sunday, and that was a poor performance from Milan's most reliable, creative playmaker. Unable to make an impact with his direct running and off the mark with his passing, he was replaced just after the hour mark following an abject display.
FW Suso, 7 -- On another day, the Spaniard could have had several assists and a goal to his name. Although he was missing that extra bit of quality to make the difference, he was a great outlet down the left flank and was the most consistent threat throughout the game.
FW Carlos Bacca, 6 -- The Colombian international scored the all-important winning goal and for that he deserves plenty of praise. However, he was relatively anonymous for most of the game, and doesn't set the tone up front like Lapadula does when he's on the pitch.
FW M'Baye Niang, 5 -- Another mediocre performance from the winger, and while most supporters genuinely want him to prove them wrong, he's certainly testing everyone's patience. Rarely got his final ball right, gave up possession on countless occasions and was lucky to play the entire game.
DF Luca Antonelli, 6 -- Did well to get up to the speed of the game and while sticking to his defensive duties, he was always a willing runner down the left flank.
MF Andrea Bertolacci, 6 -- The pressure was building on Milan as they couldn't find a way through Cagliari, but Bertolacci was able to calm things down in midfield and keep the ball moving forward.
FW Gianluca Lapadula N/A -- The fan favourite would get a high mark if he had been on the pitch long enough. Got about the Cagliari defenders and provided the assist for the winner.
Sumeet Paul covers AC Milan for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @SP_Calcio.