AS Roma vs. AC Milan: Winners and Losers from Serie A
AS Roma and AC Milan played to a 1-1 draw Saturday at the Stadio Olimpico in a game that both teams needed to win for their embattled managers.
Roma appeared to have a ton of momentum after Antonio Rudiger opened the scoring in the fourth minute, but Milan took over the Serie A contest soon after.
Despite dominating the final 75 minutes, Milan only put one goal into the back of the net. Juraj Kucka's 50th-minute strike allowed the Rossoneri to take a point away from the road match in Rome.
Roma remained in fifth place in the league table with the point, while Milan temporarily jumped over Sassuolo into sixth.
Here's a look at our winners and losers from the 1-1 draw that closed out the day of action in Serie A.
Winner: Antonio Rudiger
Before we dive into all the bad aspects of Roma's performance, let's focus on one of the few positives. In the fourth minute, Antonio Rudiger handed the Giallorossi a one-goal advantage after he knocked in a Miralem Pjanic cross.
Rudiger broke free from a poor offside trap and sent the first goal of the match into the left side of the net. The 22-year-old defender went forward on a few other occasions, but he was unable to make more of an impact.
The goal was one of the few bright spots in a match where Rudi Garcia's men were thoroughly outplayed for long stretches.
But because of the early tally from Rudiger, Roma didn't leave the match with nothing. Although it feels like they lost the match, Roma remained in fifth with the draw.
Loser: Cristian Zapata
Before Milan found their footing and dominated the majority of the contest, Cristian Zapata failed to keep up with Rudiger on a set piece and put his team on the back foot early.
Zapata and his teammates tried to catch Roma in an offside trap, but that plan backfired as Rudiger surged through the defensive line. The man responsible for keeping an eye on Rudiger was Zapata.
Credit must be given to Zapata since he improved throughout the match and held the Roma attack silent for most of the contest, but that still doesn't make up for his marking error in the fourth minute.
The draw temporarily moved Milan into sixth place with 28 points. They will remain there if Sassuolo lose to Inter Milan on Sunday.
Winner/Loser: Juraj Kucka
Juraj Kucka was seen as one of the top performers on the pitch for AC Milan after his 50th-minute strike, but he was lashed with criticism 11 minutes later due to a brutal miss.
In the 50th minute, Kucka rose above Alessandro Florenzi and headed home a Keisuke Honda cross into the left side of the net.
Eleven minutes after his first goal of the season, Kucka somehow missed a wide-open opportunity in the middle of the penalty area. After Carlos Bacca dummied over a Kevin-Prince Boateng pass, Kucka seemed to have Milan's second buried into the back of the net, but instead he hit the ball high over the goal.
The miss was a crushing blow to Milan, who were clearly the better side on Saturday. But the performance doesn't matter much if they can't score and earn victories.
Loser: Rudi Garcia
Many saw Saturday's match as a crucial one for a pair of under-pressure managers. When the final whistle sounded, Roma boss Rudi Garcia left with the same amount of pressure or more on his shoulders.
After a nice spell of play in the first 10 minutes that included Rudiger's goal, Roma sat back and allowed Milan to enjoy the majority of the possession battle. That strategy led to an uninspired performance that saw little production from the team's forwards.
The Giallorossi may have finished the match with a point earned, but it was not appreciated by the faithful at the Stadio Olimpico who showered them with jeers on their way off the field.
If he lasts until Sunday's league match with Hellas Verona, Garcia must find a way to inspire his players in order to gain three points.
Winner: Giacomo Bonaventura
Giacomo Bonaventura was the driving force of the AC Milan attack for the 84 minutes he was on the pitch.
It took Milan about 15 minutes to find a rhythm in attack, but once they did, Bonaventura took control and exploited the growing number of gaps in the Roma back line.
Before he exited for M'Baye Niang in the 84th minute, Bonaventura handed out four key passes and put two of his five shots on target, per WhoScored.
Milan will need Bonaventura to extend his strong performance from Saturday into the next few weeks. The Rossoneri face Carpi in the Coppa Italia quarterfinal Wednesday before taking on Fiorentina, Empoli and Inter Milan over the coming weeks in league play.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.