serie-a23 August 2021

OFF TO A WINNING START

Díaz’s early goal proves decisive as AC Milan beat Sampdoria in opening fixture

AC Milan kicked off the new Serie A season with a win at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, with a goal from Brahim Díaz securing a 1-0 victory against Sampdoria. It was always going to be a tough test, with the Rossoneri also having to deal with various absentees, and so it proved to be out on the pitch. However, Coach Pioli’s men managed to run out deserved winners, putting in the hard work to pick up three points on the road following a performance where they showed character, sacrifice and fighting spirit. The team were able to dig in without giving their opponents too many opportunities along the way. Maignan’s debut was solid, while Giroud’s display was also commendable, with the Frenchman often having to do the dirty work.

The man who decided matters was our number 10, who played a key role in the first half in particular. Indeed, Díaz scored the crucial goal, showed excellent movement and produced high-quality pieces of play. This was an important confidence boost for the whole team as they look to grow as a unit and reach peak physical condition. This is the start the Rossoneri wanted, and now attentions will turn to their first home match of the season, which will see them face Cagliari at 20:45 CEST on Sunday 29 August.

CHECK OUT THE GALLERY FROM SAMPDORIA V AC MILAN

REPORT

Pioli selected a 4-2-3-1 formation, choosing Krunić in midfield and Díaz further up the field in the trequartista role. The game got off to a bright start: after Quagliarella had headed over, AC Milan started to assert themselves. On the five-minute mark, Maignan picked out Leão with a long ball over the top, with the Portuguese man subsequently being denied by an excellent fingertip save from Audero. Four minutes later, the Rossoneri scored their first goal of the season: from the byline, Calabria pulled the ball back for Díaz, whose shot squirmed through Audero’s gloves and ended in the net. Both teams were displaying attacking intent, with Candreva and Leão producing dangerous crosses at either end after 13 and 15 minutes respectively. Then, in the 17th minute, Maignan diverted Gabbiadini’s dipping free kick onto the bar and out for a corner. AC Milan had a big opportunity to double their advantage after 26 minutes: Audero parried a venomous Hernandez effort as far as Krunić, who, on the rebound, could only hit the side-netting. The game continued to be played at a high pace, although there was less goalmouth action as the half drew to an end. The teams headed to the changing rooms with the Diavolo in front.

No changes were made at the interval, and the first major opportunity fell Sampdoria’s way after the restart: Gabbiadini caught Hernandez in possession and forced Maignan into a save from close range. During the opening exchanges of the second half, the Rossoneri didn’t put their foot on the accelerator, preferring to control possession instead. With the hour mark having passed, Calabria let fly with a rocket that flew narrowly over. A Díaz shot from distance was easily smothered by Audero in the 66th minute, with the Spaniard then being replaced by Bennacer. Rebić, Florenzi and Romagnoli also all came on to provide the Diavolo with fresh legs. The hosts pushed forward late on in an attempt to draw level. Candreva fired into the mix with 87 minutes on the clock, but no one was there to divert the ball into the net. In added time, Rebić came close to adding a second but struck narrowly wide. It didn’t matter, however, as AC Milan ran out 1-0 winners.

MATCH DETAILS

SAMPDORIA 0-1 AC MILAN

SAMPDORIA (4-2-3-1): Audero; Bereszyński, Yoshida, Colley, Augello (71' Murru); Thorsby, Ekdal (86' Silva); Candreva, Gabbiadini (71' Verre), Damsgaard; Quagliarella. Subs: Falcone, Ravaglia; Chabot, Depaoli, Ferrari, Tonelli; Askildsen, Trimboli. Coach: D'Aversa.

AC MILAN (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Calabria (88' Romagnoli), Kjær, Tomori, Hernández; Tonali, Krunić; Saelemaekers (81' Florenzi), Díaz (69' Bennacer), Leão (69' Rebić); Giroud. Subs: Plizzari, Tătărușanu; Ballo-Touré, Gabbia, Kalulu; Castillejo, Pobega; Maldini. Coach: Pioli.

Referee: Guida from Torre Annunziata.
Goals: 9' Díaz (M).
Booked: 33' Gabbiadini (S), 86' Kjær (M), 93' Bereszyński (S).


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