Olivier Giroud scored his first two goals for AC Milan to help his side maintain their winning start to the Serie A campaign with an impressive 4-1 victory against Cagliari at San Siro on Sunday evening.
The Rossoneri were made to work hard for last week’s 1-0 win over Sampdoria but proved far too strong for Cagliari as they put on a show for their returning supporters, scoring all four goals in the first half.
Alessandro Deiola netted Cagliari’s first goal in six league games versus Milan to cancel out Sandro Tonali’s opener, but Rafael Leao’s heavily deflected strike and Giroud’s double gave the hosts breathing space at the midway point.
AC Milan were happy to keep hold of the possession from that point on as they cruised to a seventh league game without defeat stretching into last season.
Tonali lifted the ball over the Cagliari wall and just out of back-up goalkeeper Boris Radunovic’s reach to get Milan up and running inside 12 minutes of the kickoff with just his second Serie A goal.
Stefano Pioli’s side was pegged back soon after through a Deiola header after the midfielder was picked out by a smart Joao Pedro pass resulting in the first goal Milan had conceded in seven league matches.
But Leao restored his side’s advantage in rather fortuitous circumstances as his shot took a big touch off the back of Brahim Diaz who was Milan’s match-winner last weekend and flew past Radunovic.
Giroud’s first Milan goal followed seven minutes later, the Frenchman curling a first-time shot into the far-left corner when played in by Diaz, and he had a second before half-time when converting a penalty awarded for a Kevin Strootman handball.
Milan then went through the motions and did not register a single attempt on target in the second period, with Charalampos Lykogiannis going closest to scoring for the visitors when testing Mike Maignan at the 80th minute.
Milan have won their opening two league games of a Serie A season in successive years for the first time since 2002-03 and 2003-04 under Carlo Ancelotti.
The Rossoneri led the way for a large part of last season, only to eventually finish 12 points behind champions Inter, but Pioli is targeting the title this time around.
After scoring four goals in the first half of a league game for the first time since November 2011, Milan have certainly made a positive start to their latest title quest.
With Milan’s last season’s first-choice striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic watching on from the stands once again as he continues his comeback from injury, Giroud took center stage on his competitive San Siro bow.
Giroud became just the 15th Frenchman in history to find the net for Milan in Serie A and the first Rossoneri player to score at least twice on his first home league outing since Mario Balotelli in February 2013.
The Cagliari skipper did well to set up Deiola’s goal but struggled to get involved thereafter, registering just two touches in the opposition box across the 90 minutes.
Since a run of scoring in three successive games against Milan, Joao Pedro has now gone five league matches without netting against them.
Milan attempted 11 shots in the opening 40 minutes against Cagliari, as many shots as they had attempted in the whole game against Sampdoria.
Milan host Lazio in an early-season top-of-the-table clash on September 11 following the first international break of the season, while Cagliari host Genoa on the same day.