AC Milan began their Italian title defence with a 4-2 win over Udinese yesterday as the new Serie A season got underway.
The champions 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 and went in level at two apiece at half-time.
However the three points and four goals were the perfect way to kick-off what is likely to be a tight title tussle in Italy, with rivals Inter Milan starting their bid to reclaim the Scudetto at newly-promoted Lecce later yesterday.
Romelu Lukaku will lead the line for Inter in their season opener after returning on loan from Chelsea this summer after just one year away.
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 Brandon Soppy led to Hernandez smashing in his 12th-minute spot-kick, before Rebic swept home the hosts’ second three minutes later.
However 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 decisive fourth.
Atalanta won yesterday’s other early match, 2-0 at Sampdoria through goals from Rafael Toloi and Ademola Lookman.
AC Milan’s Ante Rebic celebrates scoring their fourth goal against Udinese in their Serie A match in Milan yesterday. (Reuters)