Milan 2-0 Bologna: Champions remain unbeaten as Leao stars against Rossoblu
Rafael Leao scored one and assisted another as Milan continued their unbeaten Serie A start with a dominant 2-0 victory over Bologna.
Stefano Pioli’s side had to recover from a goal down in each of their opening two league games, winning one and drawing the other, but did not need another rescue act on Saturday.
Leao was a constant threat down the left flank and grabbed a deserved goal in the first half, before setting up a smart Olivier Giroud finish in the second half to cap an impressive performance.
Victory at least temporarily moved Milan to the top of the embryonic Serie A table, while the Rossoneri are now unbeaten in 19 top-flight games – the longest ongoing undefeated streak in Europe’s top five leagues.
Pioli’s men started slowly but kicked into gear after 21 minutes as Charles de Ketelaere dispossessed Jerdy Schouten and powered forward to tee up Leao, who rolled his finish into the bottom-left corner.
De Ketelaere continued to be Milan’s chief creative force, chipping a delicate pass through for Pierre Kalulu, only for the defender to waste a glorious one-on-one chance up against Lukasz Skorupski.
Junior Messias was the next to be thwarted by Skorupski, before Leao blazed over the rebound, and Giroud dragged just wide of the target prior to the break.
The Rossoneri deservedly doubled their lead after 58 minutes when Leao lofted in a cross from the left for Giroud to acrobatically volley into the bottom-right corner.
Nicola Sansone almost hit back for Bologna, but his driven effort cannoned against Mike Maignan’s right-hand post as Milan preserved their first clean sheet of the campaign.
What does it mean? Milan continue Bologna dominance
Milan had only lost one of their previous 25 Serie A meetings with Bologna, with that defeat coming in January 2016 when Rossoblu coach Sinisa Mihajlovic was with the Rossoneri.
Given their recent dominance in this fixture and last season’s Scudetto-winning exploits, it came as little surprise to see Milan control most of proceedings – not allowing a single Bologna shot on target.
With Inter to come next weekend, Milan have thrown down an early marker as they look to defend their title this season.
Home comforts for Leao
Leao was a pivotal factor for Pioli last season as Milan edged out fierce rivals Inter to lift the Scudetto, and the Portugal international proved his worth once more here.
The 23-year-old has scored eight times in the league at home since the start of 2022, with no Serie A player finding the net on more occasions at their own stadium in that time.
Marko Arnautovic was in the headlines earlier in the month after being linked to Manchester United, only for backlash from Red Devils fans to seemingly end any talk of a move.
The forward subsequently became the first player to score in both of Bologna’s first two games in a Serie A season since Roberto Baggio in 1997-98, but he failed to deliver up against Milan’s well-regimented defence.
Key Opta Facts
– Leao has scored and provided an assist in a single Serie A match for the first time in his career.
– Leao is the player who has provided the most assists for Giroud in Serie A (four).
– Milan have not lost any of their first three Serie A matches of a season with Pioli as coach (three wins in as many games in 2020-21 and 2021-22, two wins and a draw in 2022-23).
– Since the beginning of 2022, no team have collected more clean sheets than Milan in Europe’s top five leagues (13 alongside Real Sociedad).
Milan will look to maintain their unbeaten run when they travel to Sassuolo on Tuesday ahead of the derby against Inter. Bologna host Salernitana on Thursday.
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