Jeremy Menez scored twice – including from a non-existent penalty – as Milan saw off Zdenek Zeman’s Cagliari 3-1.
The Rossoneri fans were on strike after dire results, leaving the stands empty but for a banner that read: ‘Game over. Insert coin to save Milan.’ Jack Bonaventura was a late addition to the absentee list, which included Riccardo Montolivo, Mattia De Sciglio, Adil Rami, Cristian Zapata, Stephan El Shaarawy, Pablo Armero and Cristian Zaccardo. Cagliari welcomed back Zdenek Zeman last week and he had Danilo Avelar, Andrea Cossu, Godfred Donsah and Albin Ekdal available again, but Antonio Balzano was sidelined.
Marco Sau drilled wide early on and Cagliari generally had more of the ball, but Milan broke the deadlock with a moment of magic from Jeremy Menez. He controlled on the outside edge of the box and curled a right-foot finish around Zeljko Brkic.
A Philippe Mexes overhead kick was charged down for a corner, then Brkic came tearing out to stop Luca Antonelli scoring from an inspired Keisuke Honda ball.
Marco van Ginkel blasted over the bar, while Avelar fired wide, then both Paul-Jose M’Poku and Marco Sau failed to get the final touch on a Diego Farias flick over the defence.
Joao Pedro replaced the struggling Alejandro Gonzalez, moving Donsah to right-back. It paid off immediately, as Cagliari equalised straight after the restart. It was a classic counter sparked by Marco Sau, as Farias sent Mexes to ground with a dummy to place his angled drive across Diego Lopez with the inside of his right boot.
However, moments later Milan restored their advantage when a corner fell to Mexes for a spectacular volley into the ground, bouncing into the far top corner.
Joao Pedro came so close to making it 2-2 on 75 minutes, firing the pull-back from Farias on to the crossbar from 14 yards.
Alessio Cerci sprinted towards goal and fell under a Luca Ceppitelli sliding tackle. The referee pointed to the spot, though replays show the foul was outside the box and if anything Cerci trod on his leg. Nonetheless, Menez stepped up and sent Brkic the wrong way to convert the penalty.
In stoppages it should’ve been 4-1, but Cerci rolled across for Giampaolo Pazzini only to nudge the ball straight at Brkic from point-blank range. Cerci went on the counter again moments later against a Cagliari side that had given up defending and this time he went for goal, firing straight at the goalkeeper.
Despite the victory, there were still jeers from the few fans present at the final whistle.