AC Milan welcome Zlatan Ibrahimovic back in 2-0 win over Atalanta


Junior Messias of AC Milan (L) celebrates with teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic after scoring to give the side a 2-0 lead during the Serie A match between AC Milan and Atalanta BC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on February 26, 2023 in Milan, Italy.

A scorching volley from Theo Hernandez led to the opening goal, Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his season debut and goalkeeper Mike Maignan returned after five months out during an encouraging 2-0 win for AC Milan over Atalanta in the Italian league on Sunday.

The victory moved the defending Serie A champion level on points with second-place Inter Milan, which lost 1-0 at Bologna, 18 points behind runaway leader Napoli.

Hernandez opened the scoring midway through the first half at the San Siro with a long-distance effort that ricocheted off the post then hit goalkeeper Juan Musso in the back before going in for an own-goal.

Milan produced several more chances before Junior Messias finally lifted a shot over the onrushing Musso and into an empty net.

Ibrahimovic came on in the 74th and at age 41 and 146 days became the oldest Milan player in recent memory, beating the mark that Alessandro Costacurta had established at 41 years and 25 days.

Ibrahimovic had surgery on his left knee in May, while Maignan injured his left calf in September.

Atalanta failed to place a single shot on goal and remained sixth, six points behind the Milan clubs.

Riccardo Orsolini took advantage of a defensive error by Inter to score midway through the second half for Bologna, which registered consecutive home wins over Inter for the first time since 1999.

Bologna dominated the match and had several other chances, as Inter appeared to lack motivation following its 1-0 win over Porto in the Champions League four days ago.

“We’re not going to achieve anything if we play this way,” Inter striker Lautaro Martinez said. “We need to change immediately and find more consistency. We just had a great game in the Champions League and now we put on a performance like this. That’s not good.”

Also, Salernitana beat Silvio Berlusconi’s Monza 3-0 with goals from Lassana Coulibaly, Grigoris Kastanos and Antonio Candreva; and Udinese and Spezia drew 2-2.

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