Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice as Milan started their Serie A campaign with a convincing 2-0 victory over Bologna, who ended Monday’s clash at San Siro with 10 men.
Having finished 2019-20 in excellent form, Milan picked up where they left off with Ibrahimovic’s double securing their first opening-day win since 2017-18.
The 38-year-old netted in the Europa League against Shamrock Rovers on Thursday and broke the deadlock with an excellent header 35 minutes in.
His second came from the spot six minutes into the second half after Riccardo Orsolini fell foul of VAR and Bologna finished the game with 10 men when Mitchell Dijks saw red in the 88th minute.
Milan played themselves into trouble inside the opening two minutes and were fortunate Roberto Soriano’s effort was deflected wide.
Ibrahimovic was inches away from getting off the mark 10 minutes later, before the veteran set up a great chance that Ismael Bennacer blazed over from close range.
Yet Ibrahimovic made no mistake with the next opportunity, directing a brilliant header into the bottom-right corner from Theo Hernandez’s cross.
Half-time substitute Alexis Saelemaekers made an immediate impact as he teed up Ibrahimovic, but Lukasz Skorupski made a solid save.
Milan were quickly handed a chance for their second, though, when VAR spotted Orsolini’s foul on Bennacer, which had been given as a free-kick, actually took place in the box and Ibrahimovic slammed the penalty high into the right corner.
A perfect hat-trick looked a certainty when Ibrahimovic rounded Skorupski, but the Swede sliced his effort over.
Milan settled for the two-goal cushion and Bologna’s frustration was compounded when Dijks received a second booking for a foul on Saelemaekers.
What does it mean? Milan back among the big guns
It has been a difficult string of seasons for Milan but, under Stefano Pioli, they finally look to have rediscovered their verve. With Atalanta (47) not in action until Saturday due to their Champions League exploits at the end of the last term, the Rossoneri – on a 13-match unbeaten run in the top flight – have picked up more points (48) than any other Serie A side in 2020.
Ibrahimovic’s opening-day run rolls on
In opening games of a season within the top five European leagues, Ibrahimovic has now been involved in 16 goals in as many appearances, scoring 12 times and providing four assists.
Leaky defence leaves Bologna in bother
After Monday’s defeat, Bologna have not kept a clean sheet in any of their past 34 Serie A matches – the longest such run for any team in the competition’s history.
Key Opta Facts
– Milan are unbeaten in 13 league games (W10 D3), the longest unbeaten streak ongoing in Serie A; it is the Rossoneri’s best run since going 14 undefeated in April 2013.
– Ibrahimovic has scored for three matches in a row in the top-five European Leagues for the first time since December 2016, with Manchester United.
– Milan have won six of their past seven Serie A home games (D1), scoring an average of 2.8 goals per game in this period.
Norwegian side Bodo/Glimt are Milan’s opponents in a Europa League qualifier on Thursday, while Bologna face Parma in Serie A in seven days.
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