Sampdoria vs Milan 1-2: Giroud Saves The Day

Defending Serie A champions Milan once again put their enormous mental fortitude on display as they overcame Sampdoria 2-1 on Saturday. Stefano Pioli’s side bounced back from a 1-1 Champions League draw at RB Salzburg to prevail in a topsy-turvy contest at Luigi Ferraris. 

Everything looked set for the visitors’ routine triumph against sub-par opponents when Junior Messias broke the deadlock within six minutes of play. Milan picked a lowly Sampdoria apart in the first half, creating several clear-cut chances to double their lead. 

The Rossoneri thought they had their second of the night in the 21st minute as Charles De Ketelaere headed home what would have been his breakthrough goal in Serie A. However, after consulting with the side-pitch monitor, referee Michael Fabbri knocked it back for an offside in the build-up. 

Milan looked unfazed by the disallowed goal and continued to torment Sampdoria with high press, preventing Marco Giampaolo’s team from breaching into their half. Though the opportunities were hard to come by due to the hosts’ stubborn defending, Pioli’s men came close to doubling their advantage on the stroke of halftime.

After an eye-catching passing exchange, Theo Hernandez found Olivier Giroud unmarked in the box. Unfortunately, the Frenchman saw his first-time attempt thwarted by Emil Audero for what would have been an identical goal to the one he scored against Inter last weekend.

Only a moment later, Giroud came inches away from rectifying his mistake, but his effort from point-blank range sailed agonizingly wide of the left post. Milan headed into halftime with a slender lead despite being a far better side and almost ended up ruing wasted opportunities after the break.

Two minutes into the second half, Rafael Leao’s attempt to score with a bicycle kick turned the visitors’ night into hell. Instead of kicking the ball, the Portuguese winger caught the head of Sampdoria defender Alex Ferrari to pick up his second yellow card, leaving Milan a man down. 

It took Sampdoria just ten minutes to capitalize on numerical superiority, with summer signing Filip Djuricic steering a close-range header straight into the net to restore parity. Milan suddenly found themselves on the back foot but managed to regroup quickly. 

Roma loanee Gonzalo Villar was penalized for a handball inside his own penalty area in the 65th minute, throwing Milan a lifeline. Who else but Giroud to step up and take responsibility? Last season’s Scudetto hero hammered the ball past Audero to give the Rossoneri a new lead.

There was no coming back for Sampdoria this time around. Giampaolo’s side had a couple of promising openings to avoid defeat. However, Mike Maignan came to the rescue again, denying Manolo Gabbiadini twice in a couple of minutes. 

On top of that, Milan were lucky that Valerio Verre hit the left post in the 87th minute. Pioli’s side eventually maintained a 100% start to their Serie A title defence (W4, D2). Meanwhile, Sampdoria remain winless this term (D2, L4) as Giampaolo’s future in Genoa hangs by a thread.