Diaz Strikes Early as Milan Seal First Win in Cagey Sampdoria Affair

After an encouraging last campaign, Milan kicked off their new season with a tough encounter against Sampdoria at the Luigi Ferraris Stadium in Genoa. Contrary to the majority of the Serie A fixtures this weekend, this was far from being an entertaining clash, as the two sides created very little chances, and an early goal from Brahim Diaz was the lone difference between them.

Roberto D’Aversa started his stint in Liguria with a 4-2-3-1 formation spearheaded by Fabio Quagliarella. The veteran bomber was supported by Manolo Gabbiadini, Antonio Candreva and Euro 2020 sensation Mikkel Damsgaard. Albin Ekdal and Morten Thorsby formed the double pivot, with Bartosz Bereszynski at right-back and Tommaso Augello on the opposite side.

On the other hand, Stefano Pioli adopted a similar tactical lineup, and relied on new signing Olivier Giroud to lead the line in the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The 2018 World Cup winner was backed by Alexis Saelemaekers, Brahim Diaz and Rafael Leao. With Franck Kessié out injured and Ismael Bennacer not fit to start, the former Lazio and Inter manager deployed Sandro Tonali and Rade Krunic in a makeshift midfield.

Mike Maignan was the surprising architect behind the Rossoneri’s first chance of the match. The goalkeeper found Leao with a goal kick, and the Portuguese rounded Bereszynski to unleash a rocket that was parried away by Emil Audero.

Few minutes later, Davide Calabria stole the ball from Augello and made a run towards the byline before finding Diaz in the Sampdoria box. The young Spaniard made no mistake with his first-time shot, as the power took it pass Audero, and Milan got an early lead.

The Blucerchiati mounted some pressure on their visitors, but Pioli’s men remained the more dangerous side. Theo Hernandez saw his shot parried away by Audero, and Krunic failed to pounce on the rebound as he failed to hit the target with the goal at his mercy.

The first half ended with a slight advantage for the Diavolo, as the hosts were only able to create half-chances from time to time.

After the break, Gabbiadini almost scored following a big blunder from Hernandez inside the Milan penalty box, but the Sampdoria striker was denied by a good save from Maignan.

The rest of the second period saw very little action, with the Diavolo happy to maintain their lead, and D’Aversa’s men unable to truly threaten Maignan’s goal. Substitute Ante Rebic almost doubled the lead for Milan in added-time, but his strike whistled pass the Sampdoria goal, as the cagey affair ended 1-0 in favor of the visitors.

Thus Milan followed the footsteps of Inter, Roma, Lazio, Napoli and Atalanta who all won their opening fixtures, whilst Juventus already find themselves trailing follow their draw against Udinese on Sunday.



August 23, 2021 – Serie A 2021-22 Round 1

SCORERS: 9′ Brahim Diaz

SAMPDORIA (4-2-3-1): Audero; Augello (71′ Murru), Colley, Yoshida, Bereszynski; Ekdal (86′ Silva), Thorsby; Damsagaard, Gabbiadini (71′ Verre), Candreva; Quagliarella (Falcone, Depaoli, Ferrari, Rocha, Chabot, Murillo, Askildsen, Torregrossa, De Luca, Caprari) Coach: D’Aversa
MILAN (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Calabria (88′ Romagnoli), Kjaer, Tomori, Hernandez; Tonali, Krunic; Saelemaekers (81′ Florenzi), Brahim Diaz (69′ Bennacer), Rafael Leao (69′ Rebic); Giroud (Tatarusanu, Ballo-Tourè, Gabbia, Kalulu, Castillejo, Pobega, Maldini) Coach: Pioli

REFEREE: Mr. Guida from Pompei
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Gabbiadini, Murru, Bereszynski (S), Kjaer (M)); Added Time: 1st Half 2′, 2nd Half 4′

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