Three takeaways from Genoa 0-1 AC Milan: Makeshift goalkeeper Giroud the hero as Rossoneri second string struggle

Olivier Giroud showed his abilities at the other end of the pitch, but there are concerns for AC Milan in attack after second-string fail to trouble Genoa on Matchday 8.

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Although a late goal from substitute Christian Pulisic ultimately saw AC Milan overtake Inter at the top of the Serie A table, it was Olivier Giroud who was the hero in stoppage time during the 1-0 win over Genoa at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris on Matchday 8.

A much-changed Rossoneri team struggled to break down the Grifone and even the introduction of Rafael Leao and Pulisic at the break took until the 88th minute to break the deadlock. However, after Mike Maignan was sent off in injury time, it was Giroud who went in goal and made a crucial double save with seconds remaining.

Rafael Leao of AC Milan watches on against Genoa [@acmilan]

Second-string AC Milan attack yet to convince

Although Genoa had made their best start to a Serie A campaign since 2018/19, Milan coach Stefano Pioli decided to start an untested front three of Noah Okafor, Luka Jovic and Samuel Chukwueze, and the gamble almost ended in failure.

After ex-Villarreal striker Chukwueze forced a save out of Josep Martinez inside the opening five minutes, it looked as though the Grifone custodian would be in for a busy night, but that was the only shot on target from any of the trio at Marassi.

The Nigerian international and Okafor were hauled off at half-time for Leao and Pulisic, while Jovic lasted until injury time because of the desperate need for Milan not to waste the opportunity presented by Inter drawing 2-2 with Bologna earlier in the day.

However, if the Rossoneri struggles in front of goal, particularly in the Champions League, continue, the lack of contribution from them will come even more into focus in the coming weeks.

AC Milan are passing themselves to death

Once again, the Rossoneri dominated possession, made and completed more passes than their opposition. Only Napoli have a higher overall pass success rate than Milan this season, but Pioli’s side are top of the list for exchanges within their own half, at 94 percent.

However, much of their success under the 57-year-old has been the speed of transition once recovering the ball. Particularly when you can unleash Theo Hernandez and Leao down the left flank. While a calmer approach will provide greater control of games, they must start delivering quicker and more incisive passes from midfield.

Olivier Giroud playing as goalkeeper for AC Milan. (Photo: AC Milan)

Olivier Giroud can stop goals as well as score them

With Genoa chasing an equaliser in the closing minutes and bringing on as many attacking players as they had left, Milan countered by using their last substitution to bring on defender Davide Bartesaghi for Jovic, but moments later found themselves without a goalkeeper after Maignan saw red for a reckless challenge on Caleb Ekuban.

The Frenchman will now miss the visit of Juventus on Matchday 9. However, the immediate concern for the Rossoneri was withstanding the Grifone onslaught without a recognised shot stopper and surprisingly turned to veteran attacker Giroud. The lack of forward momentum might have contributed to the decision, but it certainly paid off.

As the seconds ticked down, Genoa striker George Puscas stole in ahead of the Milan defence and makeshift goalkeeper showed a turn of pace that defied his ageing legs, to bravely block the attempt, and had the awareness to quickly grasp the loose ball and all three points.

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