Zlatan Ibrahimovic made the difference for Milan, as he scored along with Rafael Leao and had another disallowed, inflicting a fourth consecutive defeat on Cagliari.
These were two teams in crisis, as the Sardinians had lost three on the bounce, while the Rossoneri were without a victory since December 8. Fabrizio Cacciatore, Luca Ceppitelli and Leonardo Pavoletti missed out, but Stefano Pioli transformed his Milan side to a 4-4-2 formation, giving Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Rafael Leao their first start together. It sent Krzysztof Piatek, Suso and Jack Bonaventura to the bench.
Cagliari debuted their new Centenary jersey, as the club will mark the 100th anniversary of its foundation in May 2020.
It was a very aggressive start from the hosts, but Milan forced the first save on 17 minutes when Theo Hernandez’s angled drive was beaten away by Robin Olsen’s legs.
Alessio Romagnoli and Gianluigi Donnarumma were fortunate that no Cagliari players were ready to take advantage when they collided to reach a Luca Pellegrini cross.
Ibrahimovic almost scored with a floated header from the tightest of angles at the back post, somehow denied by Olsen’s reaction fingertip save. On the resulting corner, Rafael Leao just failed to turn in at the far stick.
There was a big scare for Donnarumma on 37 minutes when he had to back-track rapidly to claw a Nahitan Nandez lob off the line.
Milan had been without a goal for 360 minutes of football, but broke through within seconds of the restart. Samu Castillejo took a free kick quickly, Rafael Leao took one touch to control, then his shot had a massive deflection off Fabio Pisacane to loop over helpless Olsen.
The hosts tried to fight back, Giovanni Simeone’s overhead kick and a Paolo Faragò chest and volley off target, but Milan doubled their lead with Ibrahimovic.
Theo Hernandez pulled back from the left, where Zlatan hit it first time around the back of a defender’s ankle to send a bobbling angled drive into the far bottom corner. This was his 57th goal in 87 appearances for Milan, his first since a brace against Inter on May 6, 2012.
Ibra had the ball in the net again on 82 minutes with a stooping header into the far bottom corner, but he had wandered marginally offside.
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