Milan vs Sampdoria 1-0: Leao Strike Enough to Go Top of the Table

It’s a frugal Milan, the one seen at the San Siro against Sampdoria on Sunday afternoon. The Rossoneri needed all three points on offer to complete their perfect week and move top of the Serie A table, taking advantage of Inter’s quasi-pas faux in Naples yesterday.

Milan got the job done with an early strike from Rafael Leao and switched to cruise control mode for the rest of the game, at times looking for a second goal that didn’t came in the end.

Marco Giampaolo’s Sampdoria came back to earth after their sounding 4-0 win over Sassuolo from one week ago, that opened the Swiss-born gaffer’s second stint in the charge of the Blucerchiati. The Genoese side never came even close to test goalkeeper Mike Maignan, who thus had time to turn into a precious assist-man, serving Leao the long-range pass that was converted in the only goal of the game. 

Milan vs. Sampdoria offered a interesting face-off between the past and the present of Milan. Giampaolo was chosen as the new Rossoneri coach in 2019 as a consequence of the good results achieved on the Blucerchiati‘s bench. However, his experience as the Diavolo‘s manager only lasted seven games. When he was sacked, Stefano Pioli took over and the rest is history.

Leao Strikes Early with a Little Help from Maignan

It was already clear that Mike Maignan is a great goalkeeper but today the Frenchman also acted as a provider with a clinical 60-meter pass that picked Rafael Leao in Sampdoria’s defensive third.

With the Portuguese in such a great shape, Bartosz Bereszynski should have paid more attention as he was easily passed by Leao, who then proceeded to whip the ball past Wladimiro Falcone to open the scoring after just eight minutes.

Milan seemed content with their lead and limited themselves to control the game for the rest of the first half. Giampaolo’s Sampdoria needed to take the initiative but the Blucerchiati appeared inconsistent and never came close to threaten the Rossoneri‘s goal.

The second half risked following a similar pattern, with Milan on the attacking end from the get-go: Leao was literally unstoppable and, right after the restart, produced himself in a 50-meter run towards the opposition box that wreaked havoc among the opposition lines. His service for Olivier Giroud was cleared away by Omar Colley with a last-gasp slide.

Giampaolo reshuffled his cards as he sent in Tommaso Augello, Albin Ekdal, Ronaldo Vieira all together but the visitors continued to struggle to show themselves around Milan’s area.

Pioli’s side, on the other hand, were lethal on the counter. On 60 minutes, Giroud called Falcone to another fine piece of goalkeeping with a spectacular overhead kick. The battle between the two continued ten minutes later when the Blucerchiati goalie pushed above the crossbar a close-range header from the 2018 World Champion. 

Giampaolo’s last card, played when it was by now too late, was the returning Fabio Quagliarella – who sent in as a third striker in place of Tomàs Rincòn. Not even the 38-year-old managed to change the trend, however, and the Rossoneri didn’t have to break too much sweat to wrap their second win in a row.

What’s Next for Milan and Sampdoria

Thanks to today’s win, the Rossoneri regained the top spot of the league, one point ahead of Inter – whom, however, still have one game in hand to play with Bologna. Milan will have a chance to “rest” this week as they are already out of European competitions, and are waited by an easy test on paper as they take on bottom-ranked Salernitana on Saturday.

Marco Giampaolo’s battle to keep Sampdoria out of the drop zone has just started. The Blucerchiati have lost five of their last six games. Giampaolo took the reins just one week ago and started with an encouraging routing of Sassuolo, but today’s game was a step back. Next for Sampdoria is a home game against surprise package Empoli on Saturday.



February 13, 2022 – Serie A 2021-2022 Round 25

SCORERS: 8′ Rafael Leao

MILAN (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Calabria, Tomori, Romagnoli, Florenzi (89′ Kalulu); Tonali, Bennacer (75′ Krunic); Messias (57′ Saelemaekers), Brahim Diaz (57′ Kessié), Rafael Leao (57′ Rebic); Giroud (Mirante, Tatarusanu; Ballo-Touré; Bakayoko, Castillejo, Maldini) Coach: Pioli
SAMPDORIA (3-5-1-1): Falcone; Bereszynski, Colley, Magnani; Conti (53′ Vieira), Candreva (85′ Sabiri), Rincón (83′ Quagliarella), Thorsby (53′ Ekdal), Murru (53′ Augello); Sensi; Caputo (Audero, Ravaglia, Bonfanti, Ferrari, Trimboli, Supryaha) Coach: Giampaolo

REFEREE: Mr. Chiffi from Padua
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Romagnoli, Brahim Diaz, Bennacer (M); Rincon (S); Added Time: 1st Half 5′, 2nd Half 3′