AC Milan regained top spot in the Serie A table after a narrow victory over struggling Sampdoria
AC Milan regained top spot in the Serie A table after a narrow victory over struggling Sampdoria, marking only their second home win in five league outings. The ‘Rossoneri’ followed up their impressive win over Inter Milan with a strong display that likely should have seen them win by a more comfortable margin.
Inside the first ten minutes alone, the hosts stamped their authority on proceedings when Rafael Leão slotted home following a spectacular crossfield assist from goalkeeper Mike Maignan. Wladimiro Falcone could only watch on as the heavy favourites for this encounter put themselves in the lead and retook top spot in Serie A. Unsurprisingly, Milan remained in the driver’s seat for the remainder of the half, and almost doubled their lead but for a top-class one-handed save from Falcone to deny Junior Messias.
Messias was at it once again following the break, yet again coming agonisingly close, this time bending his effort beyond the far post. Sensing the tide was firmly against them, Sampdoria manager Marco Giampaolo elected to make a triple substitution in the 53rd minute, bringing on Tommaso Augello, Ronaldo Vieira, and Albin Ekdal. ‘Rossoneri’ boss Stefano Pioli responded with his own triple change four minutes later, which almost paid immediate dividends when Olivier Giroud’s acrobatic effort was met with a strong save.
To their credit, Sampdoria remained in the contest with the one-goal margin, keeping hopes of an unlikely point alive. Falcone was largely responsible for the narrow deficit, making a string of saves throughout the contest. Giroud, once again, came close in the final 20 after beating two defenders to the ball, but his header was tipped away by the ‘Blucerchiati’ shot-stopper. Falcone’s heroics continued late on, this time, denying substitute Ante Rebić, much to Milan’s frustration.
Fortunately for AC Milan, the early goal was enough to see the ‘Rossoneri’ pick up all three points, taking them one point above rivals Inter Milan, at least for the time being. Meanwhile, Sampdoria have now suffered five defeats in their last six Serie A contests and sit just three points above the drop zone.