Serie A Week 1 - 21 Sep 2020 (19.45 UK)
Milan 2 - 0 Bologna
Ibrahimovic 35, pen 51 (M)
Stadio Giuseppe Meazza

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a towering header and converted a penalty to start Milan’s Serie A season with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Bologna.

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This was the first Serie A game of the season for the Rossoneri, although they already beat Shamrock Rovers 2-0 in the Europa League preliminary round on Thursday with Ibra and Hakan Calhanoglu goals. Ante Rebic was suspended for that game and stepped in here for Alexis Saelemaekers, with Alessio Romagnoli, Andrea Conti, Mateo Musacchio and Rafael Leao unavailable. Bologna only missed banned Gary Medel in midfield.

The lockdown measures were eased, allowing 1,000 people into San Siro, so Milan invited local healthcare workers as a thank you for their tireless efforts during the pandemic.

Roberto Soriano had his shot deflected wide within 90 seconds after a defensive error, while Takehiro Tomiyasu got a decisive touch to push Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s angled drive inches past the far post after the Swede’s spectacular turn.

Ismael Bennacer wasted a huge opportunity when Ibrahimovic’s pull-back from the by-line surprised Lukasz Skorupski, prodding over an empty net from six yards on the rebound.

Ibrahimovic broke the deadlock on 35 minutes with a simply towering header on Theo Hernandez’s cross, redirecting it in with power and precision from nine yards. It was his second goal in as many games after the Europa League trip to Ireland.

Moments later, Ibra was about to score on a give-and-go with Rebic, denied by the last-ditch Danilo sliding tackle. Bologna also threatened, Theo Hernandez with a crucial defensive header to prevent Riccardo Orsolini tapping in a Rodrigo Palacio cross at the back post.

Alexis Saelemaekers replaced not fully fit Samu Castillejo for the second half and immediately set up Ibrahimovic for a powerful but central shot that Skorupski palmed over the bar.

Orsolini was at first penalised for tripping Bennacer on the edge of the area, but VAR confirmed the contact was inside the box, so Ibrahimovic converted the penalty with a fierce side-foot into the top corner.

The man who turns 39 next month threatened a hat-trick by stinging Skorupski’s gloves from distance, then ran on to a Hakan Calhanoglu counter-attack, but the goalkeeper did enough to send him wide and the angle was eventually too narrow.

Musa Barrow had two snapshots charged down by Matteo Gabbia and Simon Kjaer, while Skorupski flew to palm a spectacular Theo Hernandez chest and volley over the bar.

Sandro Tonali made his Serie A debut in the Rossoneri jersey for the final 13 minutes and Gianluigi Donnarumma finally had a save to make, getting down incredibly quickly to palm away the Andreas Skov Olsen daisy-cutter on a Barrow through ball.

Bologna threatened again in the final minutes, as Federico Santander thumped the woodwork from a tricky angle on a free kick and the rebound was somehow fired over the bar.

Mitchell Dijks had been threatening to get sent off all game and it finally happened with his second yellow card for getting a fistful of Saelemaekers’ shirt.

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Milan: G Donnarumma, Calabria, Gabbia, Kjaer (Duarte 71), Theo Hernandez; Bennacer (Krunic 86), Kessie (Tonali 77); Castillejo (Saelemaekers 46), Calhanoglu (Brahim Diaz 71), Rebic; Ibrahimovic
Bologna: Skorupski; De Silvestri, Tomiyasu, Danilo, Dijks; Schouten, Dominguez (Sansone 57); Orsolini (Skov Olsen 57), Soriano (Svanberg 80), Barrow (Vignato 83); Palacio (Santander 80)
Ref: La Penna

Sent off: Dijks 88 (B)