Sampdoria 1-4 AC Milan: Ibrahimovic at the double as Rossoneri put Samp to the sword

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan produced an altogether very professional display at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris on Wednesday night, beating Sampdoria 4-1 in an entertaining game.

It was the Zlatan Ibrahimovic show once again as the Swede scored his second brace in three Serie A games, netting either side of the break and each side of Hakan Calhanoglu’s scissor-kick effort that made it 2-0 early in the second half.

Gianluigi Donnarumma – wearing the captain’s armband again in Romagnoli’s absence – added to a string of impressive saves by keeping out a penalty with the score at 3-0, but Christopher Askildsen ruined the clean sheet with a fantastic late strike from distance.

Nonetheless, there would be revenge as substitute Rafael Leao added a fourth goal with a sublime finish as Milan put the pressure back upon Roma for the time being in the battle for fifth.

Pioli will have been delighted to welcome Ismael Bennacer and Theo Hernandez back into his starting XI, as they replaced Lucas Biglia and Diego Laxalt in the midfield and back four respectively, while the rest of the team remained unchanged.

After a cagey opening to the game, it was Milan who took the lead with the first big chance of the game in the fourth minute. A fantastic run down the left flank from Ante Rebic saw the Croatian stand up a perfect cross to Ibrahimovic, who had ghosted unmarked to the penalty spot and finished with a powerful downward header.

The Rossoneri continued their rampant beginning to the game and had Sampdoria on the ropes, with Ibrahimovic’s audacious lob from 50 yards landing on the roof of the net, before Theo Hernandez missed a great chance to make it 2-0 as Falcone saved following a neat one-two with Rebic.

Rebic had another big chance to double the advantage in the 12th minute as Calhanoglu released him with a perfectly timed through ball, however Falcone pulled out an excellent reaction save with his right leg to thwart the 26-year-old winger.

Gianluigi Donnarumma’s first action of the game came a few minutes later as he sprawled to cut out a threatening cross from Depaoli down Samp’s right flank. Moments later Depaoli was involved again in space down the same time; this time the 23-year-old dragged his low shot comfortably wide.

There were half-hearted appeals for a penalty in the 20th minute as Calabria picked up a loose ball and looked to dart to the byline before tumbling to the ground, though there was nothing in the incident upon replay.

Gaston Ramirez – sporting a peculiar bandage on his head from a previous knock – made Donnarumma work with a spinning half volley from the edge of the box, although ‘work’ is generous as his weak effort rolled into the hands of the Italy international.

Milan came close to make it 2-0 on the half hour mark as Ibrahimovic rolled the ball wide to Theo, who cut the ball back to the Swede before Yoshida threw himself in front of the first time shot to keep the margin at one. Matteo Gabbia fired over from the resulting corner with a howitzer from 25 yards.

Inside the final 10 minutes of the first half Milan had a couple more good chances. The first saw Calhanoglu bend a free-kick into the side netting from around 22 yards out, while the second saw Saelemaekers hook a first time effort way over the bar after an excellent run and feed from Theo.

Pioli made a surprise change at half time as Rafael Leao came on for Rebic, who had been booked just before half-time for an altercation with Gaston Ramirez.

Sampdoria really should have levelled within six minutes of the restart as Quagliarella’s drilled low free-kick from 20 yards was parried into the air by Donnarumma, yet Colley inexplicably headed the rebound over from a few yards out.

The home side would be made to pay for their glaring miss as Calhanoglu doubled Milan’s advantage two minutes later. A cross was stood up to the far post where Ibrahimovic was waiting to head back across goal, using all his neck muscles, and Calhanoglu ghosted in to fire past Falcone and make it 2-0.

A foul was initially called, but VAR rightly overturned it as no contact was made by Calhanoglu on the defender.

Moments after Calhanoglu had made it 2-0 with a thunderous scissor kick finish, Ibrahimovic got his second goal of the game to put the game beyond doubt.

A counter-attack was led by the Turkey international who had Saelemaekers to his right and the Swede to his left, and Hakan chose to feed Ibra who finished past Falcone at the near post.

A double sub followed as Giacomo Bonaventura and Samu Castillejo came on in place of Saelemaekers and Calabria to inject some life into the right side.

By this point Milan players were queueing up to add a fourth goal. Kessie and Leao each saw efforts saved, after Quagliarella had seen his header stopped by Donnarumma from a Samp corner with the game really opening up.

Sampdoria were given a chance to break their duck from the penalty spot when referee Fabrizio Pasqua awarded them a penalty after consultation with VAR, but Donnarumma saved Maroni’s penalty kick to preserve his clean sheet.

A substitution then followed as Lucas Paqueta came on in place of Ibrahimovic, whose night was done after 80 minutes.

With just three minutes to go though the clean sheet was gone, but it couldn’t have been ruined by a better goal. Christopher Askildsen picked up the ball 25 yards and curled an incredible effort past Donnarumma into the top corner.

This seemed to anger Milan who went in search of a fourth, and Castillejo dragged an effort wide via a deflection with bodies waiting in the box.

They did get their fourth goal with virtually the final kick of the game as Rafael Leao got on the scoresheet; the Portuguese starlet producing a wonderful whipped finish past a motionless Falcone to add the icing on top of the cake.

That would be the last chance of an entertaining end-to-end clash at the Marassi as Milan made it eight wins in 11 – and no defeats – since the resumption of Serie A.

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