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  • By Alessandro Schiavone in Cologne

Ex-Chelsea star Giroud runs the show in Milan's 2-1 win as Bakayoko has miserable afternoon

FC Cologne 1-2 AC Milan

By Alessandro Schiavone from RheinEnergieStadion in Cologne

Olivier Giroud, Milan's gain is Chelsea's loss

The Frenchman, who spent three-and-a-half years at Chelsea without ever fully managing to gain the trust of Antonio Conte, Maurizio Sarri, Frank Lampard and Thomas Tuchel, was one of Milan’s shining lights last term as the Rossoneri won their first Scudetto in 11 years. And today he picked up exactly where he left off at Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia in the famous title-winning day, as his brace gave Milan a deserved victory over Bundesliga side Cologne.

The game was only three minutes old when the French World Cup winner dragged a shot wide from around 20 yards out. But he was just giving Cologne a warning of the hard times ahead. And it didn’t take long before he rattled the back of the net, on 16 minutes. Junior Messias gave the ball to Ante Rebic, who found the ex-Arsenal FA Cup winner with a sublime backheel pass. And the Frenchman did superbly when he applied the slightest of flicks to lift the ball over Cologne keeper Marvin Schwaebe to round off a neat team move. Ex-Man City attacking midfielder Brahim Diaz then cantered forward undisturbed after Pierre Kalulu won possession for the Rossoneri. And the Spaniard, who went off the boil in the second half of the season as the rest of his teammates clicked into gear, fed Giroud by rolling him in on goal and the 35-year-old scored again. He cut inside and aimed for the top corner with his deflected shot leaving Schwaebe no chance. Apart from his two strikes, Giroud worked hard off the ball, caused the defenders all sorts of problems with his runs in behind while his knack for being in the right place at the right time did the rest against Cologne’s ropey backline. If only Chelsea had kept him instead of bringing back Romelu Lukaku to London last year, they would not only have had an established and proven goal scorer on the pitch in moments of need such as against Real Madrid away. But there’s arguably an argument that they may also have been less unsettled off it too. It’s unthinkable that an exemplary professional like Oli would have given that unauthorised interview and made his unhappiness known to the press.

Bakayoko invisible

At the age of 28 it’s too early to write Tiemoue Bakayoko’s footballing obituary but the disheartened Frenchman failed to sparkle yet again in a Milan shirt. Despite wearing a different number and Thierry Henry’s 14 on his back. After being marginalised for much of last season’s, he squandered another chance to impress Stefano Pioli. Maybe his last as today’s fixture at the RheinEnergieStadion was likely his last act for the Lombards. The Frenchman offered little in possession as he hardly served a dangerous ball forward. Making matters worse, he rarely broke up Koln’s counter-attacks and play. With this physical attributes, athleticism and box-to-box qualities in his locker he could be a totally different player. But probably he has mentally given up. His mediocre displays are not due to a lack of trying. It’s just that any player who doesn’t have his manager’s trust would become dejected after a while. Thus, after looking the part in his first spell at the club in the 2017/2018 season under manager Rino Gattuso, Baka’s second homecoming clearly hasn’t worked out. Surprisingly so. And now it’s time for a fresh start as Chelsea need to find a club who takes a punt on him. Not an easy task.

FC Cologne

20 Marvin Schwaebe- 2 Benno Schmitz- 3 Kristian Pedersen- 4 Timo Hubers- 7 Dejan Ljubicic- Florian Kainz- 13 Mark Uth- 23 Sargis Adamyan- 24 Jeff Chabot- 27 Antony Modeste- 28 Ellyes Skhiri

AC Milan

1 Ciprian Tatarusanu- 5 Fode Bado-Toure- 9 §Olivier Giroud- 10 Brahim Diaz- 12 Ante Rebic- 14 Tiemoue Bakayoko- 20 Pierre Kalulu- 25 Alessandro Florenzi- 30 Junior Messias- 32 Tommaso Pobega- 46 Matteo Gabbia


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