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AC Milan

AC Milan 1-0 Sampdoria: Rafael Leao’s first-half strike sends hosts top of the Serie A table


Rafael Leao’s early goal was enough for AC Milan to beat Sampdoria and go to the summit of Serie A.

The Brazilian was found by a long ball from Mike Maignan in the eighth minute and after getting behind the Sampdoria defence cut towards goal and slid an effort inside the far post.

There was little action in the rest of the half, barring a late save from Wladimiro Flacone to deny Junior Messias.

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09/02/2022 AT 19:20

The Sampdoria keeper was busier after the break being called on to deny efforts from Olivier Giroud and Ante Rebic in particular, but in truth this was as comfortable a victory as a solitary-goal margin can be.

Milan are now a point clear of city rivals Inter, with Napoli a point further adrift, in the race for lo Scudetto.

TALKING POINT

All they do is win – If this Milan side wins the title it will be a far cry from the exhilarating team which last won them the highest domestic honour. Their only Scudetto in 18 years in 2010-11 came with career years from Alexandre Pato and Robinho as well as a peak Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and marshalled at the back by the imperious Alessandro Nesta and Thiago Silva.

The loss of Ibrahimovic and Silva to PSG a season later started a decade of life out of Scudetto contention for the Rossoneri. Other than Mike Maignan in goal and perhaps Leao on the left, it is unlikely any of this team would have got in the title winning side of 11 years ago, but they do have the steel seen in many title winning sides.

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From Fikayo Tomori at centre back, to rising midfielder Sandro Tonali and maybe the most underrated clutch centre forward of recent times, there are good reasons why Milan are riding high and they will push Inter and Napoli all the way this year.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Wladimico Falcone (Sampdoria) – Milan certainly did not lay siege to the Sampdoria goal during the 90 minutes but they would have been further ahead but for a very solid display by the Sampdoria stopper. His stop from Junior Messias in the first half was superb and Olivier Giroud appluaded him on two occasions in the second half when he denied strong efforts from close range.

PLAYER RATINGS

AC Milan: Maignan 7; Calabria 7, Tomori 7, Romagnoli 6, Florenzi 6; Tonali 7, Bennacer 6; Messias 6, Brahim Diaz 6, Leao 7; Giroud 7.

Subs: Saelemakers 6, Kessie 6, Rebic 6, Krunic 6, Kalulu 6.

Sampdoria: Falcone 8*; Berezinski 6, Colley 6, Magnani 6, Murru 6; Conti 6, Candreva 6, Rincon 7, Thorsby 6; Sensi 6; Caputo 6.

Subs: Augello 6, Vieira 6, Ekdal 6, Quagliarella 6, Sabiri 6.

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MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

8′ GOAL FOR MILAN! Leao with a fanstastic goal taking a long ball from the keeper, getting around his man, then cutting in and heading towards goal from the left flank and coolly slotting inside the far post.

44′ Fantastic save! Leao’s cross was headed back by Giroud to Messias on the edge of the box and he fired a left-footed drive from the edge of the box which Falcone got his left hand to and deflected the ball over the bar.

60′ Giroud with a fine effort! An acrobatic scissor kick at the back post after Rebic chipped the ball to the back post but it prompts another stop from Falcone.

70′ Giroud flicks a header from Bennacer’s cross… But another fine save from Falcone to tip the effort over the bar.

KEY STAT

Serie A

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