Champions Milan off with a powerful start, as Dumfries steals a precious victory for Inter

AC Milan began their Italian title defense with a hard-fought 4-2 victory over Udinese on Saturday, while Denzel Dumfries’ stoppage-time goal earned Inter Milan a late win at Lecce.

Champions Milan came back from a two-goal deficit to win three points, thanks to two goals from Ante Rebic, a penalty from Theo Hernando, and a strike from Brahim Diaz.

Milan vs Udinese

The margin of defeat was harsh on Udinese, who performed admirably in front of a boisterous home crowd at the San Siro.

However, three points and four goals were the ideal way for Milan to begin what is expected to be a tight title race in Italy, with no clear favorite ahead of the season’s start.

“We can do better, there were a lot of positives, but there are other things on which we can improve, but that is normal for this time of year,” Pioli told DAZN.

When Rodrigo Becao met Gerard Deulofeu’s corner with a header that squeezed past Mike Maignan, fans at a packed San Siro roared “we are the champions” as the team came out on a balmy summer evening in Milan.

Milan responded and took the lead with less than a quarter-hour remaining after a lengthy VAR review on a clash between Davide Calabria and Udinese’s Brandon Soppy resulted in Hernandez smashing home his 12th-minute penalty. Three minutes later, Rebic swept home the hosts’ second.

Udinese were furious at the decision to award Milan’s penalty, which the club’s technical director Pierpaolo Marino described as “without any logic.”

A thrilling first half ended with Milan fans wondering what was going on thanks to Adam Masina’s diving header in the fourth minute of added time, which leveled the scores spectacularly.

Masina then soothed the home crowd’s nerves by unwittingly nodding Hernandez’s cross into Diaz’s path, putting Milan back ahead.

Diaz was again at the heart of things in the 68th minute, pressing Roberto Pereyra in the Udinese area before nicking the ball and rolling back a low pass that Rebic stretched to push in the fourth goal that sealed the win.

Dumfries takes the spotlight

Dumfries stole the show on Romelu Lukaku’s return to Serie A, scoring in the 94th minute just as Inter appeared to have dropped points at newly promoted Lecce.

Dumfries celebrating his last minute goal vs Lecce

Lukaku nodded home from close range with 81 seconds remaining to give Inter the lead at the Stadio Via del Mare, an ominous sign for Lecce given that he netted against the southern side on his Italian top flight debut in 2019, a 4-0 thrashing for Inter at the San Siro.

However, pushed on by a passionate home crowd, Marco Baroni’s side refused to be intimidated by their more illustrious opponents, drawing level less than two minutes after half-time through Assan Ceesay, who slipped in a precision finish after being neatly put through by Federico Di Francesco.

Kristijan Bistrovic and Lameck Banda both pricked Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic’s fingers, but the visitors had chances to win as they pressed in the closing stages.

The spirited hosts were punished when Dumfries headed off the post and Lukaku was denied by flying goalkeeper Wladimiro Falcone just before the Netherlands wingback bundled in the winner.

Monza, managed by Silvio Berlusconi, were defeated 2-1 at home by Torino in their first Serie A match.

On his Torino debut, Aleksei Miranchuk scored two minutes after the break, expertly finishing off Antonio Sanabria’s through ball after a quick passing move.

Sanabria doubled the away side’s lead midway through the second half, much to the chagrin of Berlusconi, who was in the stands at the Stadio Brianteo.

Atalanta defeated Sampdoria 2-0 in Saturday’s other early match, with goals from Rafael Toloi and Ademola Lookman.

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