Milan Soars to Serie A Summit with 2-0 Win Over Lazio : Pulisic and Okafor Shine
|Christian Pulisic of AC Milan in action during the Serie A TIM match between AC Milan and SS Lazio at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on September 30, 2023 in Milan, Italy.(Image-Getty)
Christian Pulisic and Noah Okafor propelled AC Milan to the summit of Serie A in a commanding 2-0 victory over Lazio, marking a pivotal moment in their campaign. In this Saturday clash, the duo's second-half goals clinched a well-deserved triumph for Milan on their home turf.
The 24-year-old Portuguese sensation, Rafael Leao, played an instrumental role in both goals, showcasing his exceptional talent by delivering two crucial assists. Leao's performance was nothing short of menacing, as he not only orchestrated these goals but also created numerous other scoring opportunities throughout the match.
With this win, Milan now sits comfortably atop the Serie A table with 18 points after seven games, firmly establishing a three-point lead over their arch-rivals, Inter Milan, who were set to face Salernitana later on the same day. Meanwhile, Lazio currently finds itself in 14th place, having accumulated a modest seven points.
Milan's head coach, Stefano Pioli, expressed his satisfaction with the team's performance, noting, "After the break, we were more compact and certainly more energetic, hungrier and more determined. That is a great sign when playing every three days and it was a fully deserved victory."
The pivotal moment in the match came on the hour mark when Leao masterfully found Christian Pulisic inside the box. The American star unleashed a powerful half-volley that soared past Lazio's goalkeeper, Ivan Provedel, sending the San Siro crowd into a frenzy.
In the 88th minute, Leao once again showcased his brilliance, reaching the byline and drawing Provedel out of position before delivering a precise pass to Noah Okafor. Okafor calmly slotted the ball into the net, doubling Milan's lead and sealing the fate of the match.
Lazio did have their moments, with Felipe Anderson coming close to scoring but finding the side-netting. Tijjani Reijnders also had a tantalizing opportunity, attempting a back-heeled finish that struck the outside of the post just before halftime.
Provedel's impressive saves thwarted Milan's earlier efforts to extend their lead, keeping the visitors in contention until the final moments. Lazio briefly thought they had secured a consolation goal in the dying moments when Pedro unleashed a magnificent curling shot into the top corner, only for it to be disallowed due to an earlier offside.
Milan did suffer a potential setback as midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek limped off the pitch in the first half due to a suspected groin injury. Coach Pioli expressed his hope that the injury was not serious, acknowledging the unfortunate timing of such setbacks.
Looking ahead, Milan faces a crucial fixture in the Champions League group stage against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday before traveling to Genoa for a league match on October 7.