Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored on his return after four months out as AC Milan claimed a convincing 2-0 victory over Lazio at the San Siro.
Enjoying territorial advantage in the first half, they did not make it pay until the 45th minute when Rafael Leao ran 40 yards, then played the ball wide to Ante Rebic, received a square ball back and slid home for the opener.
Franck Kessie should have doubled the lead on the stroke of half-time when he was brought down by Ciro Immobile after a corner, but clipped the ensuing penalty against the crossbar.
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Ibrahimovic was introduced in place of Leao on the hour mark, meaning Rebic moved to the left flank and from there he brilliantly set up a tap-in for the substitute in the 68th minute.
The Swedish legend also showed he has lost none of his ability to get under the skin of opponents when, in the last minute of the match, his forceful rubbing of Lucas Leiva's head led to Maurizio Sarri running onto the pitch to remonstrate with him - and earned the Lazio coach a red card.
Milan, who like Lazio came into the game with an 100% record, go top of the table, above Napoli on goal difference.
TALKING POINT - MILAN LOOK A CONTENDER
It is 11 seasons since AC Milan won the title and though they finished in second spot last term, their best finish in nine seasons, they never really looked to have a chance to overhaul the early lead enjoyed by Antonio Conte's side. This year with Inter and Juventus weakening they look to have their best chance in a generation and they passed their first real test today.
Although they sometimes seemed to lack a final ball in the first half, it felt like this was due to the lack of a spearhead - a position Olivier Giroud, recovering from Covid-19, and Ibrahimovic should be able to combine to fill this role through the campaign. The sheer dominance they enjoyed over a genuine Champions League contender tonight suggests whoever finishes above the Rossoneri may well win the Scudetto.
MAN OF THE MATCH - ANTE REBIC (AC MILAN)
It could easly have been Rafael Leao. The scorer of the first goal was as good as the Croatian striker before leaving on the hour mark. After doing a very solid shift in his unpreferred number nine positon, he relished moving to the left after Ibrahimovic's introduction. Ending the game with two assists, he showed he will play a pivotal part of Milan's attacking plans this season. The perfectly-weighted ball he played for Ibrahimovic's goal really was a thing of beauty.
AC Milan: Maignan 7; Calabria 7, Romagnoli 7, Tomori 6, Theo Hernandez 6; Tonali 7, Kessie 7; Florenzi 6, Brahim Diaz 6, Leao 8; Rebic 8. Subs: Ibrahimovic 7, Bakayoko 6, Saelemakers 6, Bennacer 6, Ballo 6.
Lazio: Reina 6; Marusic 6, Luiz Felipe 7, Acerbi 6, Hysaj 6; Milinkovic-Savic 7, Leiva 7, Luis Alberto 6; Anderson 5, Immobile 5, Pedro 6. Subs: Zaccagni 6, Lazzari 6, Basic 6, Muriqi 6, Moro 6.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic of AC Milan celebrates after scoring to give the side a 2-0 lead during the Serie A match between AC Milan and SS Lazio
Image credit: Getty Images
45' GOAL! AC Milan 1-0 Lazio (Leao): A lovely goal at that. Leao runs with the ball from the centre circle to the penalty area and then plays in Rebic who squares the ball back to the Brazilian and he sidefooted home into the corner.
45+3' Kessie goes down in the box and it looks like Immobile kicked him after the Milan player nicked the ball. VAR CHECK....PENALTY
45+6' PENALTY MISSED! Kessie takes the penalty and clips the ball against the crossbar. He heads the rebound wide but it would not have counted anyway.
68' GOAL! AC Milan 2-0 Lazio (Ibrahimovic): And it is that man Zlatan but the credit has to go to Rebic who superbly drew the defence before slipping a perfectly waited daisy-cutter cross beyond the last man for the Swedish legend to finish.
90+4' RED CARD! A furore to end the game as Lazio coach Maurizio Sarri is sent off for running on the pitch to confront Ibrahimovic who was a little rough rubbing the head of Lucas Leiva.
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