AC Milan

Sampdoria 0-1 AC Milan: Player ratings as Rossoneri open Serie A season with a win

Sean Walsh
Milan kicked off the new campaign with a victory on the road
Milan kicked off the new campaign with a victory on the road / Getty Images/Getty Images

AC Milan opened their 2021/22 Serie A season with a hard-fought win at Sampdoria.

Brahim Diaz grabbed the game's only goal in a frantic end-to-end encounter at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.

Portuguese forward Rafael Leao nearly opened the scoring inside 10 minutes when he ran onto Mike Maignan's long goal kick, but his effort was tipped over by Emil Audero.

But Brahim did give Milan the lead not long after. Davide Calabria won the ball high up the pitch and his cutback was met by the Spaniard, whose shot squirmed under Audero and into the Sampdoria net.

Euro 2020 starlet Mikkel Damsgaard nearly responded immediately, but was unable to get a much-needed toe onto Antonio Candreva's cross. Manolo Gabbiadini's free-kick was tipped onto the bar by Maignan soon after, and Damsgaard's effort from the resulting corner was well stopped by the Frenchman.

Audero then nearly gifted Milan another when he palmed Theo Hernandez's effort straight into the path of Rade Krunic, but he could only find the side netting.

Sampdoria ramped up the pressure after the break, with Hernandez nearly giving away a penalty for a challenge on Gabbiadini.

Olivier Giroud had a quiet debut, but nearly sealed all three points with a close-range header, but Bartosz Beresznyski got enough on it to deflect the effort behind.

Sampdoria's final chance came when Candreva fired the ball across goal, but substitute Valeria Verre was unable to direct it towards goal and Milan held on for the win.

1. Goalkeeper & defenders

Mike Maignan
Maignan was impressive on his debut / Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Mike Maignan (GK) - 8/10 - Big shoes to fill as Gianluigi Donnarumma's replacement, but passed his first test with flying colours. Was comfortable with the ball at his feet and made plenty of top stops.

Davide Calabria (RB) - 7/10 - A menace down the right flank and was well deserving of his assist.

Simon Kjaer (CB) - 6/10 - Was bombarded a fair bit and was in the wars plenty.

Fikayo Tomori (CB) - 7/10 - Recovery pace and confidence on the ball were rather useful assets for Milan.

Theo Hernandez (LB) - 6/10 - Great going forward as expected, but a little suspect defensively. Sampdoria consistently doubled up on him down his side.

2. Midfielders

UC Sampdoria vs AC Milan - Serie A
Brahim played between the lines / Getty Images/Getty Images

Alexis Saelemaekers (RM) - 6/10 - Played more of a support role in order for Calabria to catch Sampdoria out with his marauding runs.

Sandro Tonali (CM) - 6/10 - Tidy in possession but won't have been happy with how much joy the hosts were getting in areas behind him and in front of the defence. Made a vital block late on.

Rade Krunic (CM) - 7/10 - Was unlucky not to find the net but showed his worth nonetheless.

Rafael Leao (LM) - 6/10 - Started fast but was then guilty of overthinking when in possession. Wasn't able to use his trickery or pace effectively.

Brahim Diaz (AM) - 7/10 - Plenty of signs to show he can take on the playmaking and goalscoring responsibilities left by Hakan Calhanoglu.

3. Forward

Oliver Giroud
It was a quiet night for Giroud / Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Olivier Giroud (CF) - 5/10 - Wasn't involved too much but at least provided Milan with a direct outlet.

4. Substitutes

Ismael Bennacer (CM) - 6/10

Ante Rebic (LW) - 6/10

Alessandro Florenzi - (RM) - N/A

Alessio Romagnoli - (CB) - N/A