Sampdoria 1-2 AC Milan: Rossoneri maintain unbeaten start despite red card
AC Milan withstood Rafael Leao's red card early in the second half to beat Sampdoria 2-1 and maintain their unbeaten start to the Serie A season.
Stefano Pioli's champions were dominant in the first half at Stadio Luigi Ferraris and went in at the break a goal up thanks to Junior Messias' early strike – his first of the season.
However, Leao received a second yellow card two minutes after half-time for a high foot, giving Samp the impetus to level through Filip Djuricic shortly before the hour mark.
Rather than concede again, though, Milan snatched all three points in the 67th minute when Olivier Giroud slammed in from the penalty spot after Gonzalo Villar had handled in the area.
The Rossoneri went ahead in the sixth minute when Messias finished from 12 yards following a flowing move involving Giroud and Leao, although goalkeeper Emil Audero will feel he should have done more.
Djuricic whipped against the crossbar from 20 yards soon after, before Charles de Ketelaere was denied a first Milan goal when his bundled effort was ruled out for offside after a lengthy VAR review.
Milan were dealt a blow immediately after the break when Leao received a second booking after he struck Alex Ferrari in the face when attempting an overhead kick.
And Samp capitalised on their numerical advantage in the 57th minute when Djuricic headed home Tommaso Augello's cross inside the six-yard box.
But Milan had the final word as Giroud hit the roof of the net from 12 yards after the VAR had spotted a handball by Villar, prompting a pitchside review from referee Michael Fabbri.
Samp still came agonisingly close to rescuing a point in a late scramble as Mike Maignan twice denied Manolo Gabbiadini either side of a Fabio Quagliarella effort that struck the post.
Instead, a frustrating defeat ended with coach Marco Giampaolo sent off for remonstrating with Fabbri.
What does it mean? Milan march on as Samp's misery continues
Milan's title defence has started strongly, with Pioli's men winning four of their first six games.
They are level on points with leaders Napoli, although third-placed Atalanta – one point back – play on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Samp have only picked up two points this season, equalling their worst haul after six games in a top-flight campaign. They remain in 18th.
Giroud delivers again
Giroud once again proved he is the man for the big moments with a coolly dispatched penalty to seal maximum points for his side. It was no less than he deserved, given he had seven shots – five more than any other Milan player.
Leao blots copybook
Leao's red card cut short what had been a superb performance from the Portugal international. The 23-year-old had two shots and created three chances – a total not bettered by anyone on the pitch – before he connected with Ferrari's face when attempting an acrobatic finish.
Key Opta Facts
- Milan have won three successive Serie A meetings against Sampdoria for the first time since September 2016.
- Sampdoria have failed to win seven Serie A games in a row for the first time since May 2017.
- Pioli (652) has become the eighth manager in the three-points-for-a-win era to have picked up 650 points in Serie A.
- Giroud has scored each of his past three Serie A penalties. The previous one was on January 6 against Roma.
Milan host Dinamo Zagreb in Champions League Group E on Wednesday before welcoming Napoli to San Siro in Serie A on Sunday – the day after Sampdoria visit Spezia.