Nigel de Jong’s deflected overhead kick cancelled out a Roberto Soriano strike, but a 1-1 draw does little to help Milan or Sampdoria.
This was a must-win game for the Rossoneri’s European hopes after two consecutive victories, but Samp knew three points would send them up to fourth place. They drew 2-2 at Marassi back in November.
Riccardo Montolivo, Keisuke Honda, Michael Essien and Stephan El Shaarawy missed out for the hosts, but for the first time this season they were able to field the same starting XI for two games in a row. Djamel Mesbah stepped in for the suspended Vasco Regini, while Sinisa Mihajlovic tweaked his tactics to a 4-2-3-1 with Luis Muriel benched.
Samuel Eto’o tested Diego Lopez with an early snapshot from distance, but Emiliano Viviano got his fingertips to a Marco van Ginkel daisy-cutter and from the resulting corner the on-loan Chelsea midfielder blasted another effort wide.
Eto’o smashed not far off target from outside the box, but Jeremy Menez turned on the turbo and back-heeled it for Ignazio Abate, who fired over rather than pull back for Van Ginkel.
Milan turned up the pressure, as Luca Antonelli volleyed a corner over and Alessio Cerci’s finish was charged down, then Menez’s back-heel sent Jack Bonaventura into the box only for Eder to track back and clear.
There was a brief halt for partial floodlight failure that knocked out the giant screens, monitors and wi-fi, but the teams were able to continue.
Matias Silvestre did just enough to stop Mattia Destro volleying in from close range, then on the stroke of half-time the ball broke kindly to Cerci and his rocket skimmed the bar.
Pedro Obiang scrambled clear before Destro could pounce on a Viviano rebound. A free kick was taken short for Eder, his eventual daisy-cutter palmed round the base of the near post by Diego Lopez.
Sampdoria took the lead when Menez lost the ball with an unnecessary back-heel flick in midfield, sparking the counter-attack. Eto’o eventually nutmegged Philippe Mexes to send Roberto Soriano clear and the finish flew past Diego Lopez one-on-one.
Destro was all set to tap in a Menez pull-back from six yards, but Angelo Palombo used himself as a human shield to block.
Alfred Duncan performed a goal-line clearance on Mexes’ header at the near post, but from the next corner Nigel de Jong’s overhead kick found another attempted Duncan interception, this time sending it past his own goalkeeper.
Moments later Destro collided with Djamel Mesbah, knee against shinpad, and had to be stretchered off in agony.
Suso almost scored a sensational debut Serie A goal when his curler sailed past Viviano only to smack against the far post on 82 minutes.
Lorenzo De Silvestri was lining up the shot when he sprained his ankle on the San Siro turf and had to limp off. There were chances for both sides, as it was end-to-end in the final stages.