5 things about AC Milan's nervy win over Dudelange
MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP / Getty

Welcome to the "5 things" recap by theScore's Anthony Lopopolo, which highlights AC Milan's performances over the 2018-19 season. Here, a breakdown of Milan's 5-2 victory over Dudelange.

1. Milan avert disaster

One of the biggest upsets of the season was on the cards when David Turpel lashed home the go-ahead goal against Milan. A club from a town of 20,000 people, Dudelange silenced the San Siro by taking a 2-1 lead. The hosts dropped their guard after a blistering start to the match and nearly suffered an ignominious defeat that would've reverberated for years. But the Rossoneri - banged up and undermanned as they were - fought back and avoided monumental embarrassment. They played in the 60th minute as if it was the 90th, showing the urgency required to overturn a potential catastrophe. Questions about Milan's fragile mentality can, will, and should persist - a team with a payroll of around €140 million shouldn't ever find itself in a position like this - but the players fought hard enough to escape a beating from the international press.

2. Depth remains a problem

Heading into the campaign, it looked like Milan had better bench options than they did last year. The arrivals of Pepe Reina, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Samu Castillejo, Diego Laxalt, and Alen Halilovic - not to mention the marquee signing of Gonzalo Higuain - promised to beef up each of their respective positions. However, the performance against Dudelange showed how inadequate some of Milan's substitutes have been. Laxalt was far too overeager and unpredictable to maintain any shape on the left flank, Halilovic couldn't keep the pace, and Andrea Bertolacci, recalled from Genoa after a season-long loan, looked completely lost in midfield. Sporting director Leonardo needs to invest heavily in the January transfer window to have any hope of a strong finish.

3. Calhanoglu finding his feet

Marco Luzzani / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Hakan Calhanoglu created the equalizer with an inswinger that eluded Dudelange's defenders and scored Milan's winning goal with a low-driving effort. It was his first tally in six months, capping an encouraging 90 minutes from a player who's struggled for confidence this season. Calhanoglu lost possession on a few occasions, but only because he was trying to affect the match. He also switched play and spotted runs with precise passes. It was his positivity that lifted Milan from their mid-match malaise.

4. Cutrone enjoying the Europa League

Patrick Cutrone has scored 10 goals in 17 appearances in the Europa League - many of them important ones. His sense of timing in the area is preternatural, but perhaps the only thing better is his movement. Cutrone put Dudelange in precarious positions and forced one defender into an own goal. He's always asking questions of the defense and willing to link up with his midfielders.

5. Higuain ineffective up top

Although he set up Cutrone's first goal with a cheeky backheel flick, Higuain struggled to do much else in the opponent's area. He misplaced passes, underhit long balls, and drifted out far too wide to have any sort of impact. Higuain has a tendency of dropping deep and playing wide, which can help the team distribute and maintain possession, but it had the opposite effect Thursday. He continuously removed himself from dangerous positions and often played himself into cul-de-sacs. Higuain has to find a greater balance.

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5 things about AC Milan's nervy win over Dudelange
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