The Rossoneri had their first home game with a crowd for over 18 months, relishing the opportunity after a 1-0 win away to Sampdoria. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Franck Kessie and new signing Pietro Pellegri were unavailable, and Rade Krunic was again preferred to Ismael Bennacer. The Sardinians lost Alessio Cragno to injury, replaced by Boris Radunovic.
Henrique Dalbert risked slightly more than a yellow card for a two-footed lunge in the opening six minutes, while Rafael Leao took too many touches when sent clear on an Olivier Giroud back-heel, allowing Andrea Carboni to make the desperate tackle.
Sandro Tonali scored his first goal in the Rossoneri jersey, and only his second in Serie A, with a wonderful free kick from the edge of the area that dipped over the wall and into the near top corner.
The lead lasted just three minutes before Joao Pedro’s inspired dinked pass over the top found Alessandro Deiola, whose header steered into the far top corner, despite Mike Maignan getting his fingertips to it.
The drama continued with a third goal in five minutes, as Leao’s strike took a massive deflection off Brahim Diaz to completely wrong-foot Radunovic. The Lega Serie A credited Leao with the goal, as his original shot was on target.
The Spaniard created the third goal, running forward from midfield and a slide-rule pass finding Giroud to bend it into the far corner first time with the inside of his left boot from 12 yards, the ex-Chelsea striker’s first Serie A goal.
Milan kept pushing, Simon Kjaer’s header charged down and Fikayo Tomori’s follow-up well saved. Kevin Strootman raised his arm to deflect a Brahim Diaz shot over and VAR confirmed he was on the line, so it was a penalty, converted by Giroud for a brace.
It would’ve been a hat-trick but for Diego Godin’s desperate defensive header in the six-yard box and interception to prevent a tap-in on Leao’s low cross.
Cagliari almost got another too, Maignan just about preventing the Charalampos Lykogiannis free kick going straight in from a tricky angle.
Milan 4-1 Cagliari
Tonali 12 (M), Deiola 15 (C), Leao 17 (M), Giroud 24, pen 43 (M)