Matter of Zapatas Favors Samp, Duvan Sends Diavoli to Hell

Sampdoria beat Milan 2-0 in a midday match at Marassi Stadium in Genova, thanks to a goal by Duvan Zapata and a late doubling by Ricky Alvarez. The Doria’s Colombian striker took advantage of a mistake from the Rossoneri defender who bears his same name, then Alvarez had the best possible impact on the match by scoring just a few seconds after having stepped foot on the pitch.

Coach Marco Giampaolo’s boys caught their third win in five matches, and redeemed themselves after a disappointing no-goal draw in Verona in the recent midweek round. The Blucerchiati are still undefeated, and proved to be an authoritative candidate for an outsider role in the League. Plus, they seem to have found an unexpected added value in loan player Duvan Zapata, man of the match today regardless of the goal he scored.

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Man of the Match Duvan Zapata, here facing Frank Kessie

Conversely, for Vincenzo Montella is again time to get back to the drawing board and try to understand what went wrong today, as his side – just like it had happened with Lazio a few weeks ago – vanished when facing the first real difficulties. The Diavoli were not able to pose any real threat to the goal defended by Christian Puggioni, despite rotating five out of their six available offensive players.

More than that, Montella will need to address some very alarming trends that his defensive block showed today, with the lowlight of the evident involution of the man who was supposed to be the added value of his brand-new Milan: Leonardo Bonucci appeared once again confused, nervous, and caught by surprise in the occasion of both Sampdoria’s goals.

Milan’s trainer, who had started his Seria A career 21 years ago right in Genova and playing for Sampdoria (where he earned the nickname of Aeroplanino due to his habit of celebrating goals running with arms wide open…), also contributed to the defensive disaster for his part, lining up Cristian Zapata in place of Mateo Musacchio: An unfortunate move that costed his side a goal.

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A young Vincenzo Montella in his Sampdoria “aeroplanino” days

Rossoneri risked going down very early in the match, when a cross by Ivan Strinic inside the box was deflected by Frank Kessié with his arm. Referee Paolo Valeri pointed at the penalty kick spot at first, but then changed his decision after requesting video assistance and concluding that the Ivorian’s arm touch was unavoidable and unintentional.

The missed opportunity didn’t affect Sampdoria’s spirit, as Blucerchiati kept the pressure on for the full first half. Duvan Zapata tested Gianluigi Donnarumma’s concentration in at least three occasions. At 40’, Alessio Romagnoli almost caused an own-goal with a clumsy defensive intervention – another mistake for the Roman defender, after the one that had costed Milan a goal against Udinese two weeks ago.

Teams went to the changing rooms at half time on a nil-nil score, with the feeling that Sampdoria deserved something more. Striker Fabio Quagliarella proved the impression true a few minutes after the restart, when Rossoneri failed to catch him in offside and let him free to shot: his conclusion only narrowly missed the goal. Then it was Belgian midfielder Dennis Praet’s turn to attempt to score, served by a beautiful heel kick pass by Gastòn Ramirez, but his shot was too weak to pose any threat.

At 67’ the Milan side finally showed up around Puggioni’s area, when a combination between Suso and Kessié was neutralized by a perfect defensive play by Lucas Torreira.

That was the only interruption in the game’s pattern, which saw the home side attacking again and finding a well-deserved lead three minutes later: Cristian Zapata attempted to clear the box with a weak header that failed to move the ball away. Sampdoria’s Duvan Zapata was quick enough to intercept it, dashing past a slow Leonardo Bonucci, and converted the opportunity in the lead for his Team.

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Duvan Zapata celebrates after scoring the goal that gave Sampdoria the lead

At that point, Montella operated three changes in three minutes, sending in Patrick Cutrone, Hakan Calhanoglu and Fabio Borini, but none of them managed to reverse the trend of the game.

On the contrary, it was Doria’s coach Giampaolo to place the right substitution, as at 90’ he sent in Ricky Alvarez for Praet. The Argentinian had a stunning impact on the match and, only a few second after his entrance, grabbed a ball that once again Milan’s defense failed to control, and stroke Donnarumma down with a sharp cross kick to set the score to 2-0.

A stunned Milan will receive Croatian side Rijeka next Thursday in San Siro for their second Europa League match. Rossoneri traditionally use their European appointments to heal the pain of their domestic league setbacks. But Milan is on a quest to grab a Champions League spot for next season – and if the team consistency is the one seen today at Marassi, the task will prove much arduous for Montella and his boys.

THE SCORECARD

SAMPDORIA-MILAN 2-0

SCORERS: 72’ D. Zapata; 91’ Alvarez

SAMPDORIA (4-3-1-2) Puggioni; Bereszynski, Silvestre, Ferrari, Strinic; Barreto, Torreira (93′ Capezzi), Praet (91′ Alvarez); Ramirez (84′ Verre); Quagliarella, D. Zapata. (Tozzo, Sala, Regini, Andersen, Murru, Linetty, Djuricic, Caprari, Kownacki). Coach: Giampaolo

MILAN (3-5-1-1) G. Donnarumma; C. Zapata, Bonucci, Romagnoli; Abate (81′ Borini), Kessie, Biglia, Bonaventura (78′ Calhanoglu), R. Rodriguez; Suso (78′ Cutrone); Kalinic. (Storari, A. Donnarumma, Musacchio, Paletta, J. Mauri, Locatelli, André Silva). Coach: Montella

REFEREE: Mr. Valeri from Roma
NOTES: Spectators: 25000; Yellow Cards: G. Donnarumma, Bonucci (M); Extra Time: 2′ 1st half, 4′ 2nd half

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