Adel Taarabt and a controversial Adil Rami goal gave Milan the 2-0 victory, but 10-man Sampdoria were furious.
Sinisa Mihajlovic and Clarence Seedorf were teammates at Marassi in 1995-96 and now found themselves going head-to-head as Coaches with a friendly hug on the touchline. The Dutchman was eager for a boost after Wednesday’s 1-0 Champions League defeat to Atletico Madrid, but had a lengthy absentee list including Christian Abbiati, Mario Balotelli, Mattia De Sciglio, Daniele Bonera, Robinho, Stephan El Shaarawy, Cristian Zapata, Valter Birsa, Matias Silvestre and Bryan Cristante. Samp were fresh from a 3-0 loss to Roma and had Daniele Gastaldello and Lorenzo De Silvestri suspended, so had to reshuffle on the flanks.
Giampaolo Pazzini faced his former club and had a great chance when springing the offside trap, but his lob was cleared off the line by Shkodran Mustafi.
Milan did get their goal moments later. Adel Taarabt’s powerful header on an Adil Rami cross was beaten away from point-blank range, but the former QPR man was quick to tap in the rebound for his second Serie A goal.
Manolo Gabbiadini tested Marco Amelia after fancy footwork to shake off defenders, but Riccardo Saponara was inches away from scoring his debut Serie A goal with a right-foot volley on Kevin Constant’s cross that was over the bar.
Maxi Lopez came on against his former club, but Milan doubled their lead in controversial circumstances. Junior Da Costa went to catch a Taarabt cross, but collided with Pazzini and it kept going for Adil Rami to nod in at the back post. Sampdoria were furious, feeling it was a foul on their goalkeeper.
The Blucerchiati were further incensed when Amelia rushed off his line to kick a Maxi Lopez pass away from Eder in the penalty area, catching the Brazilian on his way through.
Maxi Lopez was shown a second yellow card for taking his protests too far, heightening the tension at Marassi. Gabbiadini risked a straight red for his mistimed tackle on Taarabt.
Eder thought he’d put Sampdoria back into it when he got on the end of a deflected Renan cross, but Amelia bravely parried with his ribs from point-blank range.
Eder and Keisuke Honda both had headers off target in the final stages, while Amelia pulled off one last save on Eder.
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Sent off: Maxi Lopez 72 (S)