Milan did the bare minimum to earn a 2-0 victory away to Cagliari thanks to an own goal and Zlatan Ibrahimovic strike.
The Rossoneri aimed to end the year on a high with this Week 1 game, rescheduled from August due to the players’ strike. Christian Abbiati returned from a shoulder injury, though Mario Yepes, Alessandro Nesta, Ignazio Abate, Gennaro Gattuso, Mathieu Flamini and Antonio Cassano were sidelined. Cagliari opted for a very attacking line-up with Andrea Cossu back from a ban joining a trio of hitmen, while Davide Biondini was suspended.
After 100 seconds of play in the driving rain, Thiago Ribeiro’s angled strike cracked against the outside of the near post from a tight angle.
However, it was Milan who took the lead moments later. Robinho got to the by-line down the right and drew out the goalkeeper, rolling across for Antonio Nocerino to tap into an empty net from five yards. Replays suggest Francesco Pisano got the final touch when sliding in to intercept.
Philippe Mexes returned to the starting XI, but risked an own goal with his horribly scuffed clearance. Albin Ekdal hit a screamer from distance that stung Abbiati’s palms. The goalkeeper performed a spectacular save with his knee from point-blank range, though Joaquin Larrivey was offside anyway.
Larrivey was on the right side of the trap later on, but his header was wide, while Lorenzo Ariaudo’s looping effort was too weak to trouble Abbiati.
At the dawn of the second half a Kevin-Prince Boateng flick sent Aquilani through for a snapshot that struck Michael Agazzi’s legs. At the other end, Thiago Ribeiro chipped up a cross for Victor Ibarbo, but the header was straight at Abbiati.
Robinho managed to dribble round the on-rushing Agazzi after running on to an Ibrahimovic disguised pass, but had narrowed the angle too much and drilled over. Abbiati smothered a powerful Radja Nainggolan screamer, but Milan doubled their lead.
Ibrahimovic did it all himself this time round, as his flick was nodded back down by Robinho and the Swede turned on the turbo to burst past Michele Canini, at full stretch clipping the finish over Agazzi into an empty net. It was a fine way to mark his 200th Serie A appearance.
Thiago Ribeiro’s attempt was deflected wide, while Agostini’s cross was desperately cleared by a sliding Thiago Silva tackle. Substitute Alexandre Pato and Ibra went on the counter from a Cagliari free kick, but The Duck fired straight at Agazzi.