Milan: Italian champions AC Milan turned an early one-goal deficit into a 4-2 win over Udinese at San Siro on Saturday, ensuring a winning start to their campaign in an electrifying Serie A opener.
Two goals by Croatia international Ante Rebic plus strikes by Theo Hernandez and Brahim Diaz helped the Rossoneri to recover from an early shock after Udinese defender Rodrigo Becao put the visitors ahead 90 seconds into the game.
The Brazilian, who nodded in a corner from a tight angle, netted for only the fifth time in Serie A at the start of his third season in Italy. Three of his goals have come against Milan and all three were headers.
“What didn’t we like? Surely the fact that we conceded a goal in such a short time, we have to start games better,” Milan coach Stefano Pioli told broadcaster DAZN.
“Then we played half an hour of great football.” Milan equalised in the 11th minute through a penalty from Theo Hernandez, after the referee pointed to the spot following a VAR review when captain Davide Calabria was fouled by Udinese defender Brandon Soppy.
Four minutes later the home fans found their voices again, after Rebic made it 2-1 with a powerful first-time shot, but Udinese defender Adam Masina’s diving header stunned the home crowd as the visitors levelled just before halftime.
One minute into the second half midfielder Brahim Diaz again put Milan ahead after a fatal mistake by the Udinese defence.
Diaz rifled the ball home from close range after Hernandez sent a cross into the box, the 23-year-old Spaniard’s first goal for nearly a year.
That fired up Udinese, but Rebic smashed another shot past keeper Marco Silvestri into the top left corner in the 68th minute to give the hosts breathing space and match his tally of two goals in the whole of last season.
“(Rebic) knows how to tie the game, go deep, he’s physical, he has all the characteristics to be an important player for us. I know it, he knows it,” Pioli said.
“I’m happy, it’s clear that you only judge strikers by their goals but his work without the ball has given us so much. Congratulations.” Udinese, who finished 12th last season, were the last side to score against Milan at the San Siro before the champions went on a run of five home games without conceding a goal to clinch the title.
Udinese host Salernitana next Saturday and Milan travel to Atalanta on Sunday.