Goals from Rafael Leao and Sandro Tonali got Milan’s new year off to a winning start, helping them see off a late Salernitana fightback
Milan held off a late Salernitana fightback to make a winning start to 2023 as a 2-1 victory kept them in pursuit of Serie A leaders Napoli.
First-half goals from Rafael Leao and Sandro Tonali seemed to be more than enough for Stefano Pioli’s side to start the new year with a comfortable victory.
But Federico Bonazzoli’s late finish set up a nervy finale at the Stadio Arechi, where the Rossoneri just barely held their nerve to secure the three points.
After surviving the relegation battle last season, Salernitana came close to a big scalp and Davide Nicola will take heart from their late rally against the Scudetto holders.
The visitors did not have to wait long for the opener, Leao rounding Guillermo Ochoa in the 10th minute to get a low finish after latching on to Tonali’s looping pass.
Tonali got in on the action himself just five minutes later, Brahim Diaz pouncing on Ochoa’s tackle and nudging him back for the midfielder to pounce.
A chance to take a three-goal lead was thwarted shortly after the restart when Olivier Giroud curled a shot straight at the keeper.
That mistake looked set to backfire on Milan as Salernitana found an unexpected response heading into the closing stages thanks to Bonazzoli’s close-range finish.
But the hosts were unable to find a second to force a result as the Rossoneri held on for a victory that was crucial to their title defense ambitions.