Inspired Ibrahimovic brace spurs Milan past Sampdoria

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice as Milan picked Sampdoria apart and extended their unbeaten run to 12 matches in all competitions with a 4-1 victory.

Stefano Pioli's men have not lost since the Serie A season resumed in June, a run of form that has taken them to sixth place and European qualification while securing the coach an extended contract.

January signing Ibrahimovic has been key and proved the star of the show again with his two goals plus an assist for Hakan Calhanoglu - following a VAR review - in a dominant display at the Marassi that concluded with Rafael Leao's well-taken fourth.

Gianluigi Donnarumma saved a penalty in the second half but was eventually beaten by a brilliant effort from Kristoffer Askildsen.

Milan were outstanding from the off and needed just four minutes to forge the opener as Ante Rebic's smart turn on the left created space for a cross that found Ibrahimovic inexplicably unmarked for a simple header.

A second should have swiftly followed, but Theo Hernandez shot straight at Wladimiro Falcone, who bounced back up to steer Davide Calabria's drive clear.

Falcone then got a toe to Rebic's low finish, before he again came to Samp's rescue with a scrambling stop from a scuffed Ibrahimovic effort on the half-hour mark.

The home side somehow made it to half-time just a goal behind and almost capitalised with an equaliser six minutes after the restart as Donnarumma parried Fabio Quagliarella's free-kick and Omar Colley nodded the rebound over.

However, Milan went straight down the other end and deservedly doubled their lead, with Calhanoglu reaching Ibrahimovic's knockdown to thrash home. Referee Fabrizio Pasqua initially perceived a non-existent foul on Ronaldo Vieira by the goalscorer but made amends with a visit to the pitch-side monitor.

Now ruthless where they had earlier been wasteful, Milan had a third when Calhanoglu returned the favour and fed Ibrahimovic to shoot through Falcone.

Donnarumma blocked from close range to deny Quagliarella a consolation and Samp still could not beat the goalkeeper even after Simon Kjaer barged Andrea Bertolacci to the ground in the area, with Gonzalo Maroni's penalty saved.

It took a spectacular effort to finally get the better of Donnarumma as Askildsen curled into the top-right corner three minutes from time, far too late to cause Milan major concern as Leao instead restored the three-goal cushion in style in stoppage time.

Veteran vital for Pioli

Indeed, it has been a long time since Milan were this much fun to watch. As Rebic buzzes around up front, the full-backs pile forward, but at the centre of it all is Ibrahimovic.

The giant Swede may now be 38, but he has scored 10 times since January and brings others into play brilliantly. Milan must do whatever it takes to keep him at the San Siro.

Rowdy Rebic escapes red

The one Milan disappointment since football's return was their Coppa Italia semi-final exit to a rusty Juventus side. They might well have won that tie, too, but for a foolish Rebic red card.

The forward avoided another dismissal here but only after a lengthy VAR review assessed his clash with Gaston Ramirez. Escaping with a booking, Rebic was then hooked at half-time with Milan unable to afford his ill discipline.

What's next?

Sampdoria have little to play for against already-relegated Brescia on Sunday's (AEST) final day, while Milan will back themselves to extend their unbeaten run further at home to Cagliari.

Source Omnisport