Milan kicked things off in the 2023/24 Serie A campaign with a landslide 2-0 win over Bologna at Renato Dall’Ara on Monday. Stefano Pioli’s new-look lineup reigned supreme Emilia-Romagna, getting their bid to win a second Scudetto in three years off to a dazzling start.
Despite approaching 37, Olivier Giroud is still a force to be reckoned with, something Bologna defenders had to learn the hard way. Marquee summer signing Christian Pulisic whipped the ball over the top for Tijjani Reijnders, who picked the Frenchman out on the far post. Giroud routinely slotted the ball past Lukasz Skorupski to give Milan the lead only 11 minutes into the game.
While the old Milan would’ve probably settled for a narrow lead away from home, this hungry-looking new side refused to take their feet off the gas. After playing a crucial role in the opening goal, Pulisic took it upon himself to double the visitors’ advantage. He carried the ball from the halfway line before exchanging a ‘give and go’ with Giroud well outside the box, only to fire a thunderous strike into the back of the net.
Only 21 minutes after the first whistle, Bologna found themselves on the ropes. Things could’ve been much worse for Thiago Motta’s side, but Skorupski came up huge to deny Giroud’s attempt from point-blank, preventing a further downfall. Though the experienced goalkeeper offered the hosts a lifeline, they couldn’t take advantage of Milan’s complacency in the second half.
Pioli’s men tried to slow the tempo after the restart, which almost backfired. However, Mike Maignan showed why many consider him the best goalkeeper in Serie A. The Frenchman fended off several decent attempts to keep Milan 2-0 up. After weathering the storm early in the second half, the rest of the game was plain sailing for I Rossoneri.
Despite mostly giving up their attacking ambitions, Milan came close to completing a triple at Dall’Ara in the latter stages. Rafael Leao almost marked his first league appearance with the #10 shirt on his back. The quicksilver forward made light work of his markers and sent Skorupski the wrong way, but the ball rattled off the post.
However, Milan won’t lose much sleep over Leao’s late miss. They have maintained a 100% win ratio in the opening Serie A fixtures under Pioli to set themselves up perfectly for the round-two clash against Torino on home turf. Meanwhile, Bologna will have to do better if they’re to be relevant in the top-half picture this term.
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