Milan 2-0 Atalanta: Ibrahimovic returns as Rossoneri make it four wins in a row

Milan defeated Atalanta 2-0 at San Siro to move level on points with second-place Inter in a match that saw Zlatan Ibrahimovic make his first appearance in nine months.

Inter's surprise 1-0 loss to Bologna earlier on Sunday opened the door for Milan to pounce and they took full advantage on home soil with a fourth win in a row in all competitions.

Juan Musso's 25th-minute own goal – after Theo Hernandez's long-range volley hit the frame of goal and went in off the goalkeeper's back – put Stefano Pioli's side on their way.

The hosts, who also had fit-again keeper Mike Maignan back in their side for the first time since September, added a deserved second through Junior Messias late on following the long-awaited return of Ibrahimovic.

There was a slice of fortune involved in Milan's opener as Hernandez's sublime strike from 25 yards was helped over the line by Musso after the ball had hit the post.

Rafael Leao clipped the side-netting, fired over from a glorious position and was then denied by a fine Musso save as Milan struggled to make their superiority truly show.

Messias was the next Milan player to fire off target with plenty of the goal to aim for, with that proving to be the moment Pioli turned to Ibrahimovic.

The home side finally killed off the contest through Messias' clipped finish over Musso four minutes from time after being played through on goal by Leao.


What does it mean? Milan maintain momentum

Milan have little hope of retaining the Scudetto, with Napoli a whopping 18 points clear, but they have returned to form and are now level with fierce rivals Inter.

On the day Pioli took charge of his 800th career match as a coach, this marks the first time this season the Rossoneri have won four in a row in all competitions.

Atalanta have lost four of their past five league games, meanwhile, and are three points outside the Champions League spots having played a game more than fourth-place Roma.

Welcome back, Zlat

Having been an unused substitute in three matches this month, Pioli decided the time was right for Ibrahimovic to play his first competitive minutes since undergoing knee surgery in May 2022.

At 41 years and 146 days, Ibrahimovic is now the oldest player to represent Milan in Serie A in the three-points-per-win era (1993-94 season), overtaking Alessandro Costacurta (41 years and 25 days).

Wasteful Milan not punished by woeful Atalanta

Milan squandered a number of good chances prior to Messias finally adding a second goal, but Atalanta failed to offer any sort of attacking threat throughout the match.

Gian Piero Gasperini's side did not attempt a shot of any note in the first half of a league game for the first time since Opta started recording such data in the 2004-05 campaign, while their three shots in the second half were off target.

Key Opta Facts:

- Milan have won four games without conceding a goal in all competitions for the first time since February 2018 (five in that case – three in Serie A and two in the Europa League).
- Atalanta have lost in four of their last five matches in all competitions (W1), as many defeats as they collected in the previous 21 games played.
- With just two shots attempted, Atalanta equalled their record negative of shots in a Serie A match since 2004-05 (since Opta collects the data) – the last time they fired only three shots was back in April 2013 versus Genoa.
- Messias has scored a goal in two Serie A matches in a row for the first time since April 2021 for Crotone.
- Milan midfielder Messias has now scored the same number of goals (nine) and provided the same number of assists (four) for Milan (43 apps) and for Crotone (36 apps).

What's next?

Milan are back in Serie A action next Saturday with a trip to Fiorentina, while Atalanta host Udinese the same day.