It seems that this week has been all about the returns – Cristiano Ronaldo returned at Manchester United and made it a memorable one, Romelu Lukaku returned to Stamford Bridge and followed the path of Ronaldo, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu was active again and now, it was time for Zlatan Ibrahimovic to return in Rossineri colours and register his name on the score sheet as AC Milan won by 2-0 against Lazio.

There were four changes made to the starting XI from Stefano Pioli, with Alessio Romagnoli slotting into the back four allowing Simon Kjaer to rest, Franck Kessie coming back into the midfield, Alessandro Florenzi on the right-wing and Ante Rebic upfront.

The first-half chance of the game fell to the home side inside the opening two minutes of the game. A free-kick from the left wing found its way to Romagnoli at the far post, and the boyhood Lazio fan drew a comfortable save from Pepe Reina after a touch and half-volley.

It was all Milan in the early stages and another opportunity came within two minutes of the first. This time Rafael Leao stood a perfect cross up for Fikayo Tomori after breezing part his man, though the Englishman could not keep his header down.

Lazio could barely get out of their opening half in the opening exchanges, and Theo fired the latest effort at goal in the seventh minute after the Rossoneri camped on the edge of the visitors’ box, but he shanked his attempt over.

Enjoying territorial advantage in the first half, they did not make it pay until the 45th minute when Rafael Leao ran 40 yards, then played the ball wide to Ante Rebic, received a square ball back and slid home for the opener.

Franck Kessie should have doubled the lead on the stroke of half-time when he was brought down by Ciro Immobile after a corner but clipped the ensuing penalty against the crossbar.

Ibrahimovic was introduced in place of Leao on the hour mark, meaning Rebic moved to the left flank and from there he brilliantly set up a tap-in for the substitute in the 68th minute.

The Swedish legend also showed he has lost none of his ability to get under the skin of opponents when, in the last minute of the match, his forceful rubbing of Lucas Leiva’s head led to Maurizio Sarri running onto the pitch to remonstrate with him – and earned the Lazio coach a red card.

Milan, who like Lazio came into the game with a 100% record, go top of the table, above Napoli on goal difference.

Ante Rebic was the standout performer last night who ended the game with two assists, he showed he will play a pivotal part of Milan’s attacking plans this season. The perfectly weighted ball he played for Ibrahimovic’s goal really was a thing of beauty.

It is 11 seasons since AC Milan won the title and even though they finished in second spot last term, their best finish in nine seasons, they never really looked to have a chance to overhaul the early lead enjoyed by Antonio Conte’s side. This year with Inter and Juventus weakening they look to have their best chance in a generation and they passed their first real test today.


Although they sometimes seemed to lack a final ball in the first half, it felt like this was due to the lack of a spearhead – a position Olivier Giroud, recovering from Covid-19, and Ibrahimovic should be able to combine to fill this role through the campaign. The sheer dominance they enjoyed over a genuine Champions League contender tonight suggests whoever finishes above the Rossoneri may well win the Scudetto.

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