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Brahim Diaz celebrates opening the scoring for Milan
Brahim Diaz celebrates opening the scoring for Milan

Brahim Diaz scored the only goal as AC Milan launched their Serie A season with a 1-0 victory over Sampdoria.

The Real Madrid loanee netted what proved to be the winner after just nine minutes at the Luigi Ferraris Stadium; Emil Audero unable to keep out his first-time strike from Davide Calabria’s cutback.

Runners-up to rivals Inter last term, it was the ideal start for the Rossoneri, who recorded maximum points in a season-opening away game for only the second time in six attempts.

As for the hosts, who began life under new head coach Roberto D’Aversa, they have now opened each of their last four campaigns with defeat – doing so for the first time in their history.

Signed from Ligue 1 champions Lille as a replacement for Gianluigi Donnarumma, Mike Maignan made his competitive debut between the sticks for the Rossoneri and he played a key part as they opened the scoring in the ninth minute.  

Calabria latched onto his long kick before cutting the ball back for Diaz, whose first-time shot squirmed under the body of Audero. 

Both sides went close before half-time. Maignan tipped Manolo Gabbiadini’s free-kick onto the crossbar, while Rade Krunic hit the side netting from eight yards out.

Opportunities did not fall too freely after the break. 

Gabbiadini drew a save out of Maignan at his near post, but that was as close as Sampdoria came to denying Milan a sixth straight clean sheet in Serie A.

The visitors almost grabbed a second deep into stoppage time as substitute Ante Rebic shot narrowly wide from the edge of the area.

What does it mean? Milan off and running 

Having finished 12 points behind Inter last season, Milan know they must keep pace with their title rivals this term. 
 
After the Nerazzurri opened with a win over Genoa earlier this weekend, Stefano Pioli’s men followed suit with a hard-earned three points here. 
 
Although disappointed with the result, Sampdoria will have been encouraged by their performance as they aim to build on last season’s ninth-place finish. 
 
Krunic stakes his claim 

With Franck Kessie absent, Krunic produced an assured display in the heart of midfield. 
 
The Bosnia and Herzegovina international had 70 touches and 52 passes – both leading tallies for his side – while also winning 71.4 per cent of his duels. 
 
Quagliarella struggles to make an impact 

The veteran striker celebrated his 100th Sampdoria goal in the Coppa Italia defeat of Alessandria last time out. 
 
However, he was unable to build on that in his side’s Serie A opener. 
 
Generally isolated, the 38-year-old was restricted to just 33 touches while playing only 19 passes over 90 minutes. 

Key Opta facts

- Milan have won each of the five Serie A away games in which Diaz has found the net.
- There have been 36 goals scored so far in Serie A, the most in a Italian top-flight MD1 since the 1950-51 campaign (45).
- Milan have kept a clean sheet in each of their last 6 games in the Italian Serie A, a run of 589 minutes without conceding a goal.
- Milan have won 11 away league games since the start of 2021, a joint-high in the top-5 European Leagues (Manchester City and Barcelona also 11).
 
What’s next? 

Both sides are back in action next Sunday. Milan host Cagliari while Sampdoria travel to Sassuolo.

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AC MilanSerie ASampdoria

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