Ibrahimović scores after seven minutes as AC Milan stay perfect

September 13, 2021
AC Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates after scoring  his side's second goal during the Italian Serie A match against Lazio at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy on Sunday.
AC Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the Italian Serie A match against Lazio at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy on Sunday.

ROME (AP):

Seven minutes.

That's all that Zlatan Ibrahimovic required after four months out for a left knee injury -- including surgery -- before he scored in his first match back Sunday.

Ibrahimovic came off the bench on the hour mark then quickly redirected a cross from Ante Rebic from close range for AC Milan's second goal in a 2-0 victory over Lazio.

The win extended Milan's perfect start and moved the Rossoneri level with Roma and Napoli atop the Serie A standings through three rounds.

Roma beat Sassuolo 2-1 while defending champions Inter Milan dropped their first points in a 2-2 draw at Sampdoria. Napoli beat Juventus on Saturday.

Ibrahimovic, who turns 40 next month, missed a chance to play for Sweden at the European Championship when he was injured in May during a win over Juventus.

The goal meant that Ibrahimovic has now scored in 24 different league seasons.

"I'm happy that he came back well," Milan coach Stefano Pioli said. "He entered the game well.

"Beyond the obvious talent, it's the passion and fire he has inside that keeps him going," Pioli said. "Seeing the way he trains is a pleasure. His goal is to be the best and that hasn't changed as the years go by."

Rafael Leao opened the scoring for Milan just before the break following a give-and-take with Rebic.

Franck Kessie missed a penalty for Milan in first-half added time when he banged his attempt off the crossbar.

Lazio, who won their opening two games, dropped three points back.

Lazio coach Maurizio Sarri was shown a red card after the final whistle as several players, including Ibrahimovic and Lucas Leiva, got into a shoving match.

INTER MISSTEP

Inter Milan made the first misstep of their title defence with the draw at Sampdoria.

The result left the Nerazzurri two points behind the leaders.

With nine goals in their opening three matches, Inter have not had trouble scoring after Romelu Lukaku's departure to Chelsea. But the team missed reliable centre back Alessandro Bastoni, who was out with a left thigh injury that he picked up on international duty with Italy.

It remains unclear if Bastoni will return in time for Inter's Champions League opener against Real Madrid on Wednesday at the San Siro.

"It's regretful, because we should have and could have won a game like that," said Inter coach Simone Inzaghi, who replaced the departed Antonio Conte. "We took the lead twice and we should have closed it out."

Inter played the final minutes with 10 men due to an injury to midfielder Stefano Sensi, who appears doubtful for the Madrid game.

Homegrown talent Federico Dimarco opened the scoring for Inter by curling a free kick around Sampdoria's wall and into the top left corner for a memorable first goal with the senior club.

Maya Yoshida equalised for Sampdoria after the half-hour mark with a shot that was deflected in off Inter striker Edin Dzeko.

Lautaro Martinez restored Inter's advantage with an expert volley to conclude a counter-attack started by Nicolo Barella, who provided a laser-like cross.

In a match full of spectacular goals, Sampdoria's Tommaso Augello made it 2-2 with a volley similar to Lautaro's.

MOURINHO'S 1,000th

Jose Mourinho marked the 1,000th game of his coaching career by running the length of the field to celebrate Stephan El Shaarawy's late winner in a 2-1 victory over Sassuolo.

Bryan Cristante had put Roma ahead following a free kick before the break and Filip Duricic equalised before the hour mark following an excellent set-up from Domenico Berardi.

El Shaarawy's goal came with a curling effort that bounced in off the far post. Roma's entire squad -- including Mourinho -- reacted by running down to share the moment before the Curva Sud where the team's "ultra" fans sit.

It was the 639th win of Mourinho's career.

"During the week, I lied to myself, telling everyone this was not a special game. I was trying to convince myself it was not special. It was a special match," Mourinho said. "It was a match with a special number for me, which I will remember until the last day of my life.

"I didn't feel 58 today. I felt 10, 12 or 14 years old -- the age when you start to dream of a career in football. It was the run of a child."

Other results: Torino 4 Salernitana 0; Spezia 0 Udinese 1; Cagliari 2 Genoa 3.

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