Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his long awaited return to league action after injury to help AC Milan regain sole ownership of top spot in Serie A as they ran out 2-0 winners over Cagliari at the Sardinia Arena on Monday evening.
A goal either side of half time from the 39 year old was all the Rossoneri needed to ensure that they returned to the mainland with all three points as well as condemning the Isolani to their fifth straight defeat in the league.
In a somewhat expected fashion, the Rossoneri asserted their dominance on the contest from the opening whistle and they would open the scoring inside the first ten minutes, Ibrahimovic calmly rolling home a penalty after he was crudely brought down in the box by Charalampos Lykogiannis.
However, despite the early set back the hosts were undeterred and they attempted to find their way back into the game with a series of fast flowing counter attacks, but with a lack of quality in the final third becoming a feature of the Isolani’s season they found chances hard to come by.
In stark contrast Milan looked like they could seemingly create openings at will, although they appeared happy to sit on their lead for the majority of the first half, and Davide Calabria came close to extending their advantage shortly after the half hour mark when his low strike cannoned off the post.
However, when the half time whistle eventually came there had been little in the way of excitement with the Isolani having failed to get a shot on target and the Rossoneri’s prolonged Coppa Italia tie with Torino on Tuesday evening appearing to be dampening their appetite for an all action contest.
The second stanza opened in almost identical fashion to the first with Ibrahimovic again finding the target inside the opening ten minutes. A wonderful ball from Calabria found the striker unmarked and he provided an emphatic finish, which was initially ruled out by an offside flag before VAR intervened to ensure the Rossoneri’s lead was doubled.
Ibrahimovic then went close to completing his hat trick only moments later when he again found himself with a clear sight at goal, but this time Alessio Cragno was equal to the task in the Cagliari goal.
The hosts had by no means downed tools for the evening as they continued to pour forward in an effort to claw their way back into the game, but with only one shot on target through the opening three quarters of the contest their chances of a come back were fading with every passing minute.
A second booking for Milan substitute Alexis Saelemaekers offered a small glimmer of hope for the Isolani in the final quarter of an hour, but even when down to ten men the Rossoneri held firm and ensured there would be no late drama.