Udinese 3-1 Milan: Ibrahimovic's record goal for nought as Rossoneri lose again
Zlatan Ibrahimovic's landmark Serie A goal was the only highlight of a poor display for Milan as they were beaten 3-1 at Udinese on Saturday.
On his first start since January 2022 following his recovery from a knee injury, Ibrahimovic became the oldest goalscorer in Serie A history, overtaking Milan legend Alessandro Costacurta.
The 41-year-old converted a penalty at the second attempt in first-half stoppage time, cancelling out Roberto Pereyra's opener at Stadio Friuli, yet Udinese nevertheless went into the break with the lead thanks to Beto's effort two minutes later.
Kingsley Ehizibue added a third in the 70th minute, sealing eighth-placed Udinese's first home league win since they defeated Inter in September.
Udinese took the lead after just nine minutes when Ismael Bennacer's pass was intercepted after Fikayo Tomori was caught napping - Lazar Samardzic teeing up Pereyra, who rolled the ball into the far corner.
Milan were given a golden chance to equalise just before half-time though when Jaka Bijol was judged to have handled the ball as he tried to dispossess Rafael Leao in Udinese's area.
Marco Silvestri initially saved well from Ibrahimovic's penalty down to his left, but Beto's encroachment handed the Sweden forward another chance, and he duly smashed straight down the middle.
Beto swiftly made amends, though, benefiting from Isaac Success' fine work to restore the hosts' lead.
Milan's comeback hopes were dented further when Ehizibue turned the ball in from Destiny Udogie's mishit shot.
Rade Krunic lashed over from Milan's best subsequent chance, as their rough form continued.
What does it mean? Milan stumble again
A fifth defeat from their last nine league games is a blow to Milan's top-four hopes, while Udinese climb to eighth as they look to close in on the European places themselves.
Despite Stefano Pioli's side having 64 per cent of the ball, and 69 per cent in the second half, Milan had fewer shots than their hosts (14-10).
They looked to be back on track in Serie A after ending a run of five without a victory by winning three in a row, but are now winless in three again (D1 L2).
Friulani find their fire at home
Udinese coach Andrea Sottil was given a red card for his passionate protestations at the retake of Ibrahimovic's penalty, but will have been pleased with the instant reply from his side and second-half showing.
They had not won at home in nine league games since beating Inter (D6 L3), but they defeated the other team from Milan with relative ease in the end.
Return of Zlatan inspires little
Considering his injury problems and age, Ibrahimovic played well in his first start in over a year, coming in for the suspended Olivier Giroud and lasting 76 minutes.
However, few others stepped up, with Leao (three) the only player other than Ibrahimovic (two) to have more than one shot, while Alexis Saelemaekers lost the ball 16 times and won it back just once during his 64 minutes on the pitch.
Key Opta Facts
- Ibrahimovic (156 goals) has matched Roberto Mancini, Luigi Riva and Filippo Inzaghi in 21st position when it comes to the top scorers in Serie A history.
- Samardzic is the youngest player to have scored at least three goals and delivered at least three assists in Serie A this season (four goals and three assists).
- Since the 1994-95 season only Olivier Bierhoff (36) and Roberto Muzzi (45) have taken fewer games than Beto (55) to score 20 goals in Serie A for Udinese.
- Ibrahimovic – already the oldest outfield player in Serie A in the three points for a win era – is the third 41-year-old outfielder to start a Serie A match since such data is available (1994-95).
- Milan have lost four of their last five away games in Serie A (W1), as many away defeats as in their previous 54 away matches.
Udinese travel to Bologna on Sunday, April 2 when Serie A returns following the international break, while Milan head to runaway league leaders Napoli the same day.