Cagliari 1-3 AC Milan: Okafor and Loftus-Cheek score in comeback win

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan made it back-to-back wins in Serie A as they came from behind to beat Cagliari 3-1 at the Unipol Domus on Wednesday evening.

After dominating the early stages, Zito Luvumbo’s near post rocket beat Marco Sportiello to stun Milan and it instantly evoked thoughts of being ‘one of those nights’, but two quickfire goals before the break turned the game on its head.

It was Noah Okafor who got his first goal for the club five minutes before the break to equalise with a close-range finish from a rebound, then Fikayo Tomori turned in another rebound on the stroke of half-time.

Ruben Loftus Cheek’s long-range striker in the second half created a bit of breathing room and the Rossoneri saw it out from there to make it five wins from six in the league, taking second spot back from Juventus.

Stefano Pioli made changes to the starting line-up from the team that beat Hellas Verona as Theo Hernandez, Yacine Adli, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Samuel Chukwueze and Noah Okafor all came into the side.

The start to the game was very open, with Milan having a shout for an early penalty waved away by the referee Federico La Penna despite the replays showing he did have his foot stamped on by Hatzidiakos.

Inside the second minute Tijjani Reijnders was inches away from scoring his first Serie A goal with an angled shot from just outside the box that whistled past the far left post with Radunovic beaten.

It was then Cagliari’s turn to have a penalty shout turned down as Fikayo Tomori made a decisive intervention to stop Lukumbo near the byline but the forward claimed he was caught, though replays showed it was very much a fair challenge.

Okafor’s first sniff at goal came in the ninth minute of action when Reijnders did brilliantly to take down a long ball deep to the left side of the box and flick it into a dangerous area, though the Swiss international headed onto the roof of the net.

Milan’s pressure continued and they had two chances in quick succession; the first coming when Loftus-Cheek received a feed from Chukwueze deep inside the box but was crowded out when he should have hit it sooner, and the second a glancing header from a Theo cross that was diverted for a corner.

The one way traffic continued, and in the 27th minute Okafor tested Radunovic for the first time. Some good pressure around the edge of the box resulted in the former Salzburg man having a first time shot that was in the end comfortably saved.

Cagliari’s first major chance resulted in a goal, and it came from the only player to score for them so far this season: Luvumbo. He won the ball back off Adli and Nandez found him inside the box, with his left-footed rocket sailing into the roof of the net from a tight angle.

With five minutes left until the break, Milan got themselves level and it was thanks to a moment of carelessness from Radunovic. A low cross from Pulisic on the left was spilled by the Cagliari keeper, allowing Okafor to take a touch and slot into an empty net to get his first for the club.

The turnaround was complete in the first minute of added time. A corner was taken short on the right and Reijnders drilled a low cross that Radunovic could only parry into the path of Tomori who managed to bundle it over the line from a yard out.

It was clear from the early exchanges of the second half that Milan were trying to exert a bit more control on the pace of the game, playing with less risks and being more patient in possession.

However, this gave Cagliari a bit of confidence to grow back into the game and it took an excellent block from Adli to deny Luvumbo his second of the game after a Petagna knock-down into his path inside the box.

With the home side on top, Pioli decided to make a couple of changes just before the break. Yunus Musah and Tommaso Pobega were the players who came on, with Adli and Reijnders the ones making way. Musah was the one who slotted into the defensive midfield role.

Right on the stroke of the hour, Milan got their third goal of the night and it was an absolute peach from Loftus-Cheek. Pulisic found the midfield in space around 25 yards out with a lateral pass, and he unloaded a wonderful clean low strike that Radunovic could not get to as it nestled inside the far post.

Not long after a free-kick was cleared to Musah who drew a save from a low volley, Pioli made two more changes. Luka Romero made his Serie A debut and Rafael Leao came on with him, while Chukwueze and Pulisic came off.

That third goal seemed to sap some of the momentum that the home side had prior, and they began to take some of their frustration out on Milan players. Theo Hernandez was kicked through by Oristanio who got a yellow card, then Nandez went in very late and very hard on Musah.

The final substitution saw Theo Hernandez come off and hand the armband to Florenzi, with Davide Bartesaghi getting just his second league appearance.

There was a big chance for Cagliari inside the final 10 minutes as Luvumbo did excellently to create space inside the box and cross for the Oristanio, whose snapshot drew a good reaction stop from Sportiello.

Tags AC Milan Cagliari-Milan


      1. He has his uses, but he is very annoying with his style of play. He is so slow to pass and holds onto the ball way too much. I would play Adli, Musah, Reijnders from now on.

        1. Do you even watch the match at all. Musah holds the ball more than Loftus Cheek does. Adli has good long pass but his defending is poor. We all saw how he was disposessed which lead to Cagliari’s goal.

          1. Musah is a holding midfielder, his job is to get the ball from defenders and carry it forward. RLC is the one in the offensive part of the field, and he is the one who should be playing it quickly, but he never does. Learn something about football first.

  1. Adli should start against Lazio, maybe not Dortmund, but let’s see. He was at fault for the goal, but other than that he was class. His long passing and corners were elite, let’s see if he will get more chances. Overall a good from him.

  2. Loftus-Cheek scored a good goal but he really annoys me with his style of play. He hogs the ball so much and takes so long to get rid of it. He kills the momentum of so many moves because of that.

    Musah, on the other hand, was very impressive. Always available, asking for the ball, good movement, good passing. I’m a big fan of the guy and I think he needs to be one of our main starters.

    1. Because you are not a fan of RLC that’s why he won’t be a good player in your eye.

      Some of you need to start supporting Napoli so that you will be criticising and mocking your own players freely with them..

      1. Are you stupid? I never said he won’t be a good player, I just don’t like his style of play and some of the things he does on the pitch. Clown.

      2. Mr man you’re talking rubbish Loftus cheek is not in Good form to Musah why is because he doesn’t know how to control game and tempo forget that he scored a goal musah needed a starting at all time to Loftus cheek, Loftus should be addressed as a defensive midfield

    2. What are you talking about? Loftus plays so smart. He’s a big guy so can hold onto a ball but he passes it on when he’s supposed to. He’s been great.

      1. He NEVER passes when he is supposed to. I’m convinced most people on this site are just casuals who know nothing about football. I have to remember I’m talking to people who don’t understand the game..

        1. And you are what? Good at criticising your own plays more than you give a positive note.

          Go and join your fellow critics at Napoli.

  3. For me Adli needs a player alongside him. Just like Pirlo had Gattuso. Okafor can play as a starter in a more free role just like Rebic used to do when Zlatan was injured back in the start of 21/22 season.

    1. I honestly have similar train of thoughts with Adli needing a “Gattuso” as a partner if he’s to be deployed as Deep lying Playmaker.

  4. Good comeback and finish. But lack of proper DM is a big problem and it was seen today again. I have to give big kudos to Florenzi, man never gets tired and was supporting everywhere especially for Adli.

  5. Stefano Pioli should be playing two formation this season the 4-4-2 and the 4-2-3-1 formation the coach should use, and Pioli if you need the best from Loftus cheek play him as defensive midfield. He is Good in marking but my problem is that he doesn’t have a solid quality to Musah. And musah has stamina and agility more than him

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