Fabio Quagliarella scored a long-range lob as AC Milan's faint title hopes suffered another blow after a 1-1 draw at home to ten-man Sampdoria.
The Rossoneri looked rusty and disjointed and had Gianluigi Donnarumma to thank for keeping them in the game in the opening 45 minutes with brilliant saves to keep out Morten Thorsby's header from a corner and a lob from Manolo Gabbiadini.
And despite the return of Ismael Bennacer, Milan failed to have a single shot on target in the first half, the third time that has happened in 2021.
The home side brought on Pierre Kalulu at the break but it did not spark a change and they fell behind when Theo Hernandez's woeful pass was pounced on by Quagliarella who lofted the ball over Donnarumma first time from around 30 yards.
Claudio Ranieri's side were reduced to ten men minutes later when Adrien Silva was shown a second yellow for a daft lunge on Samu Castillejo.
And after further substitutions, Sefano Pioli's side equalised three minutes from time courtesy of Jens Petter Hauge's fine curling effort after cutting inside in the box.
The result means Sampdoria remain tenth while Milan are five points behind Serie A leaders Inter Milan who have two games in hand.
TALKING POINT - Milan running out of steam?
Stefano Pioli made four changes in the second half but they only livened up in the final ten minutes of the game against ten men.
Zlatan's performance was flat and the Rossinerri's squad looks to be falling short in the crucial moments after defeats to Napoli and Manchester United in the Europa League last month, while rivals Inter's expensively assembled side have grinded out six wins in a row.
As AC Milan have run out of steam, so have their title challenges and potentially even their grip on second place.
Milan Sampdoria, Serie A 2020-2021: esultanza Sampdoria dopo il gol al 57' di Fabio Quagliarella (Getty Images)
Image credit: Getty Images
MAN OF THE MATCH
Bartosz Bereszynski (Sampdoria): The Polish defender's pace caused problems for the Rossinerri throughout the game. And he made a brilliant block to divert Franck Kessie's shot onto the bar in the dying seconds.