Welcome to the 5 Things recap by theScore's Anthony Lopopolo, which highlights AC Milan's performances over the 2018-19 season. Here's a breakdown of Milan's 1-0 victory over Lazio.
Just win, baby
Style counts for little at this time of year. It's all about results, and Milan earned one of the biggest of their season. These 90 minutes weren't fun to watch - the Rossoneri didn't move the ball particularly well - but the determination to win ultimately proved to be the difference. Diego Laxalt's speculative long ball put Mateo Musacchio in a position to draw a penalty, which Franck Kessie dispatched with relative ease. In a way, Milan created their own luck by putting themselves in dangerous enough positions to force Lazio into tough decisions.
Reina solid in Donnarumma's absence
Pepe Reina was supposed to be the veteran in the room and an example for Gianluigi Donnarumma, but he's also proved his capabilities in goal. The 36-year-old saved everything that came his way, including an acrobatic stop on Ciro Immobile just two minutes into the match. Reina played cheerleader when he wasn't needed, offering advice to Donnarumma in training, and has performed admirably when called upon. That's all you can ask from a backup goalkeeper.
Borini's selflessness is admirable
Despite his clear limitations, Fabio Borini continued to prove his usefulness to this squad. He started at left wing and showed some deft touch in close quarters, and when Gennaro Gattuso asked Borini to go to right-back, the transition was seamless. He even displayed some attacking verve, taking down a wonderful long ball before setting up Krzysztof Piatek in the area. The hope is that a player like Borini won't start for Milan in the future, but with the club battling in the trenches for Champions League football, it's good to have a soldier like the 28-year-old in the ranks.
Bakayoko continues to anchor midfield
As usual, Tiemoue Bakayoko did a little bit of everything, drawing four fouls and making excellent passes through the center of the pitch. He also demonstrated his super skills on the ball, pirouetting in possession to leave his marker in the dust. Bakayoko is more than the engine of this Milan side; he's the one driving the team forward. It's difficult to imagine where Milan would be without Bakayoko dictating the tempo from his deep-lying position.
Kessie's energy gives a boost
Kessie was at his best on Saturday, putting Lazio under pressure whenever they stepped into Milan's half. His penalty was, of course, crucial, but so too was his impact in midfield. Kessie hassled ball carriers and made Lazio fight for every inch of space. If he's not always the most graceful on the ball, then he's surely cut out for battles like this one.