The defending champions Milan once again showed their formidable mental fortitude when they beat Sampdoria 2-1 on Saturday. Stefano Pioli’s side recovered from a 1-1 Champions League draw against RB Salzburg to win a header match at Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
Everything looked set for the visitors’ routine victory over second-tier opponents when Junior Messias broke the deadlock within six minutes of play. Milan chose lowly Sampdoria in the first half, creating several clear opportunities to double their lead.
The Rossoneri They thought they had their second goal in the 21st minute, as Charles de Kettleri headed home what would have been his superb Serie A goal. However, after consulting with the side court observer, referee Michael Fabri returned the ball for offside in the accumulation.
Milan seemed unfazed by the not allowed goal and continued to torture Sampdoria with high pressure, preventing Marco Giampaolo’s team from penetrating half of them. Despite the difficulty of getting chances due to the hosts’ stubborn defense, Pioli’s men came close to doubling their lead in the first half.
After an eye-catching exchange, Theo Hernandez found Olivier Giroud to be unmarked in the penalty area. Unfortunately, the Frenchman saw his first attempt thwarted by Emile Audero for what could have been a goal identical to the one he scored against Inter last weekend.
After just a moment, Giroud moved inches away from correcting his mistake, but his effort from close range sailed painfully away from the left post. AC Milan entered the first half with a poor lead despite being a much better team and they almost ended up missing chances after the break.
Two minutes into the second half, Rafael Liao’s attempt to score with a bicycle kick turned the visitors’ night into hell. Instead of kicking the ball, the Portuguese winger grabbed the head of Sampdoria defender Alex Ferrari to collect his second yellow card, leaving Milan a frustrated man.
It took Sampdoria only ten minutes to capitalize on the numerical advantage, as summer’s signature Filip Djuricic headed a close-range header into the net to restore parity. Milan suddenly found themselves in a vulnerable position but managed to quickly regroup.
Roma’s loaned Gonzalo Villar was punished for a handball inside his team’s penalty area in the 65th minute, making Milan a lifeline. Who other than Jiro to step up and take responsibility? Last season’s Premier League champion kicked the ball past Odero to give the ball Rossoneri New leadership.
There was no going back for Sampdoria this time around. Giampaolo’s team played two promising matches to avoid defeat. However, Mike Minyan came to the rescue again, and Manolo Gabbiadini was denied twice in two minutes.
Moreover, Milan were lucky because Valerio Vieri hit the left post in the 87th minute. Pioli’s side eventually kept their 100% start to defend the Serie A title (W4, D2). Meanwhile, Sampdoria remain unwinnable by that term (D2, L4) as Giampaolo’s future in Genoa hangs by a thread.