Sampdoria stuns AC Milan at home
AC Milan, hit by a flurry of close season departures, fully justified their fans’ trepidation over the new season by losing 1-0 at home to promoted Sampdoria in their opening Serie A match on Sunday.
Andrea Costa headed the only goal for the visitors just before the hour to stun a half-empty San Siro on a hot, summer evening, making it painfully obvious that the 18-times Italian champions are in for a long, difficult season.
Milan were disjointed and sluggish before the goal, although they greatly improved after striker Robinho was substituted immediately afterwards.
In the final half hour, Mario Yepes and Kevin-Prince Boateng both hit the post for Milan and Urby Emanuelson had a shot headed off the line in stoppage time while Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero performed heroics for the visitors.
The win left Sampdoria on two points after they had a point deducted over their involvement in the Calcioscomesse match-fixing scandal before the season started.
Robinho reacted angrily to his substitution although coach Massimiliano Allegri had little choice after the Brazilian wasted several good openings with his inability to pass to better-placed teammates.
Milan suffered a host of departures in the close season, headed by talismanic striker Zlatan Ibrahomivic and defender Thiago Silva who headed for wealthy Paris St Germain.
Antonio Cassano, who joined rivals Inter Milan in a swap with Giampaolo Pazzini, Alessandro Nesta and Clarence Seedorf were among others to leave the club.
They also had injury-plagued Brazilian striker Alexandre Pato once again on the sidelines.
The first half saw almost no real openings although Sampdoria striker Eder tested goalkeeper Christian Abbiati with a snapshot.
Robinho wasted three good attacks at the start of the second half before Sampdoria went ahead when Costa headed in almost unchallenged from a corner in the 58th minute.
Although Milan’s attacks had an air of desperation around them, they at least began creating chances after Robinho went off.
A Yepes header was pushed onto the post by Romero, who also managed to grab the ball off the rebound even though he was still on the ground.
Boateng fired a curling effort against the post from 25-metres and was also denied by Romero as was substitute Kevin Constant.
When Romero was beaten in stoppage time by Emanuelson’s shot, one of his defenders was on hand to head the ball off the line and leave Milan to face the inevitable barrage of criticism.