Valter Birsa’s first goal in a Milan jersey was enough to beat Sampdoria 1-0 and take some of the heat off Max Allegri.
The pressure was on both sides, as the Rossoneri scraped two points from three rounds, both with last-gasp equalisers, while Samp had only two points all season. Mario Balotelli continued his three-match ban for insulting the referee, while Kaka, Stephan El Shaarawy, Riccardo Montolivo, Mattia De Sciglio, Daniele Bonera, Giampaolo Pazzini, Matias Silvestre and Riccardo Saponara were injured. Eder was sidelined and Antonino Barillà suspended, while Milan-owned Andrea Petagna was on the bench.
The Curva Sud was closed as punishment for Milan ultras aiming anti-Neapolitan chants during the last home game.
Robinho at full stretch just failed to get on the end of a Valter Birsa chipped cross to the back post, then the Brazilian turned provider for a Kevin Constant volley just wide of the near stick.
Gianluca Sansone was sprinting towards goal when tackled by Cristian Zapata, but replays suggest any touch of the ball was minimal, so it was a huge risk for the Milan defender.
Sampdoria had a fantastic opportunity on 27 minutes. A corner found Andrea Costa, whose header scraped a coat of paint off the base of the far post.
A Manolo Gabbiadini rocket from distance soared just over the bar, but Alessandro Matri’s shot was crucially charged down from point-blank range by Lorenzo De Silvestri and the same fate befell a Sulley Ali Muntari volley.
Matri only skimmed his head on a free kick and Philippe Mexes couldn’t steer it on target at the back post. Gavazzi blasted wide on a promising Sampdoria counter-attack just before the break.
Urby Emanuelson replaced Muntari for the second half and Milan immediately broke the deadlock. Valter Birsa got his first goal in a Rossoneri jersey, drilling a low left-foot strike from the D into the bottom corner of the net.
It was almost 2-0 moments later, as Junior Da Costa had his gloves stung by a Birsa rocket, then as the move continued Robinho incredibly poked it straight at the ‘keeper in front of an open goal as he came sliding in.
Matri also wasted a great opportunity, running clear on goal only for his shot to be denied by Da Costa’s foot at the near stick.
Sampdoria introduced Milan-owned striker Andrea Petagna, though it was Pedro Obiang who fired an angled drive across the face of goal. The visitors started to take control in the final 15 minutes and peg Milan back, but their finishing and even crossing left a lot to be desired.
The hosts threatened on the counter and in stoppages Da Costa needed a fingertip save to deny M’Baye Niang’s angled drive.