Milan begin Serie A title defense with thrilling win over Udinese
Milan, Aug 13, 2022 (AFP) - AC Milan got off to a winning start in their Italian title defence with a hard-fought 4-2 win over Udinese on Saturday.
Champions Milan bounced back from going behind with less than two minutes on the clock to claim the three points thanks to two goals from Ante Rebic, a Theo Hernando penalty and a strike from Brahim Diaz.
The margin of defeat was harsh on Udinese who acquitted themselves well in front of a raucous home crowd at the San Siro.
However three points and four goals were the perfect way for Milan to kick-off what is likely to be a tight title tussle in Italy, with no clear favourite ahead of the start of the campaign.
"We can do better, there were a lot of positives but and other things on which we can improve but that normal for this period of the season," said Pioli to DAZN.
Fans at a packed San Siro roared "we are the champions" as the team came out on a balmy summer's evening in Milan, but they were soon stunned into silence when Rodrigo Becao met Gerard Deulofeu's corner with a header which squeezed past Mike Maignan.
Milan responded and were ahead with less than a quarter of a hour gone after a long VAR check on a clash between Davide Calabria and Udinese's Brandon Soppy led to Hernandez smashing in his 12th-minute spot-kick. Rebic swept home the hosts' second three minutes later.
Udinese were livid at the decision to award Milan's penalty, described as "without any logic" by the club's technical director Pierpaolo Marino.
A hugely entertaining first half ended with the Milan fans again wondering what was going on thanks to Adam Masina, whose diving header in the fourth minute of added time levelled the scores in spectacular fashion.
Masina then calmed the home side's nerves when he handed Diaz a tap-in to put Milan back ahead, unwittingly nodding Hernandez's cross into the Spaniard's path.
Diaz was at the heart of things again in the 68th minute, pressuring Roberto Pereyra in the Udinese area before nicking the ball and rolling back a low pass which Rebic stretched to push in the fourth which sealed the win.