Andre Silva's hat trick gets Milan off to rousing start in their return to Europe
AC Milan produced an excellent response to their disappointment at the weekend with a comprehensive 5-1 win over Austria Vienna in the Europa League on Thursday night. A hat trick from Andre Silva and goals from Hakan Calhanoglu and Suso ensured that the Rossoneri got the Europa League group stage off to a superb start with an emphatic victory.
Milan bounced back from their defeat to Lazio on Sunday with a convincing and confident display after concerns and question marks were raised. It was the ideal response to restore belief and the tactical switch, which included a change to a back three, paid dividends.
Albeit only a minor setback in a positive performance overall, it was disappointing to concede, especially with such sloppy marking. Aside from that, it's difficult to pick up any other glaring negative from a successful night.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- Vincenzo Montella opted to change his system and adopt a back three, and it delivered positive results with Milan putting in an assured display. Further, he made sensible and timely substitutions and deserves credit for his part in the win.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Gianluigi Donnarumma, 6 -- Could do little to prevent the goal as his defence exposed him. Produced some smart saves but did take some unnecessary risks coming off his line, which he'll have to be careful with going forward.
DF Cristian Zapata, 6 -- Was relatively untroubled throughout and looked assured in possession. Did make a costly defensive error as he lost Alexandar Borkovic for the goal.
DF Leonardo Bonucci, 7 -- A much more composed performance from the captain, both on and off the ball. Kept things tight at the back as he marshalled the defence, and was never afraid to launch long-range passes to get Milan moving.
DF Alessio Romagnoli, 7 -- Brilliant to see the Italian international back in the starting lineup, as he looked fit and sharp. Defended astutely and provided quality in building from the back in a real positive step. Looks to be fully recovered from his injury.
DF Ignazio Abate, 7 -- The stalwart put in a solid shift as he provided energy up and down the right flank to offer Milan some width. Abate defended well and got forward regularly in an encouraging all-round performance.
MF Franck Kessie, 7 -- Looked a lot more energetic on Thursday night as he seemed a bit heavy-legged at the weekend. Combative as ever, but he showed some real positive signs of using his football brain in terms of his positioning and choosing when to break forward while he grabbed a delightful assist for Silva.
MF Lucas Biglia, 7 -- Similarly to Sunday, the Argentine midfielder used his experience and technical quality to keep Milan ticking and to link play between defence and midfield. A really tidy and no-nonsense display in a crucial role for Milan, and Biglia is likely to continue to improve.
MF Hakan Calhanoglu, 9 -- A stunning strike to break the deadlock coupled with two perfectly-weighted assists for Andre Silva to end the contest in the first 20 minutes, the Turkish international was an absolute delight to watch. Orchestrated things nicely with a free creative role and would have been man of the match but-for Silva. Now he needs to do this consistently.
MF Luca Antonelli, 7 -- Nullified Vienna's threat on their right flank, and was constantly pushing forward to offer support and an outlet for Calhanoglu and others in a good performance.
FW Nikola Kalinic, 7 -- Was important in the build-up of goals with his tenacity and clever runs off the ball, while he provided an assist for Calhanoglu's opener. There were some really positive signs with his partnership with Silva even though he couldn't match his goalscoring exploits.
FW Andre Silva, 9 -- A ruthless display of finishing from the Portuguese forward, as he kept his composure and showed his class in front of goal to score a hat trick. Dropped deep and created openings to show a different side to his game too and this was a brilliant outing for him to showcase his quality.
MF Suso, 7 -- Added creative class in the closing stages as he wandered across the pitch and scored a superb goal, although it took a deflection to beat the goalkeeper.
MF Giacomo Bonaventura, 6 -- How refreshing it is to see Milan able to bring on the likes of Suso and Bonaventura in such a comfortable position. Did his job well in midfield.
DF Mateo Musacchio, NR -- Afforded Romagnoli a rest late on and added defensive steel at the back.
Sumeet Paul covers AC Milan for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @SP_Calcio.