Patrick Cutrone scored one, assisted another and saw Suso’s stunner give Milan the 3-2 victory over Sampdoria, as the new 4-4-2 system paid off.
The Rossoneri switched to 4-4-2 with Patrick Cutrone and Gonzalo Higuain upfront, Suso and Diego Laxalt wide, after back-to-back defeats against Inter and Real Betis. Mattia Caldara and Giacomo Bonaventura were out injured, while Franck Kessie shook off a knee problem to start. Samp chose ex-Milan youth academy product Riccardo Saponara in the trequartista role.
Samp had lost four of their previous six meetings with Milan, home and away in Serie A, winning the other two.
Gonzalo Higuain hit the side-netting on a corner, but Suso whipped a cross in from the right for Cutrone’s towering header at the back post. It was the 20-year-old striker’s first start of the season and his fifth goal in all competition.
However, Sampdoria struck with their first attempt to equalise. Fabio Quagliarella sparked the counter, Saponara controlled the pass with an excellent first touch, cut inside Davide Calabria and placed a snooker-shot into the far bottom corner. It was a special moment for the ex-Rossoneri youth player, his first goal in a Blucerchiati jersey, but also confirmed Milan are the only side in Serie A this season without a clean sheet.
Samp lost Nicola Murru to a muscular problem, but turned the game on its head with Quagliarella. At the end of a long passing move, Saponara floated a ball over the top to find Quagliarella’s splendid volley off the inside of the left boot. It was only the veteran’s second career goal against Milan.
Higuain tried to do it all himself and ran past a group of defenders for a low drive, but Emil Audero palmed it out of the far bottom corner.
He did get the equaliser after a give-and-go with Cutrone, blasting in from a tight angle past on-rushing Audero.
Gianluigi Donnarumma performed a great reaction save on Saponara’s overhead kick, but the Samp man was offside. Straight after the restart, Audero spilled a powerful Higuain volley and got it back under control before Cutrone could pounce and the Samp goalkeeper also palmed a Suso strike round the base of the upright.
Gregoire Defrel pulled up with a suspected thigh strain and made way for Dawid Kownacki, but it was Milan who restored their original lead through a Suso stunner. He cut inside and unleashed a left-foot scorcher from the edge of the box.
Samp had conceded four goals all season, yet three in one go at San Siro. Cutrone hit the back of the net again, but only after he’d barged over his marker.
Davide Calabria went off with a sprained ankle and Diego Laxalt was very unlucky not to add a fourth goal when he twice failed to make the most of Suso’s chipped pull-back from the by-line, scuffing the header and bundling the rebound on to the upright from point-blank range.
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