Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s historic Serie A goal was the only highlight of a poor performance for Milan, which lost 3-1 to Udinese on Saturday.
Making his first start since January 2022 after recovering from a knee injury, Ibrahimovic became the oldest goalscorer in Serie A history, surpassing Milan legend Alessandro Costacurta.
The 41-year-old converted a second-try penalty in first-half stoppage time, canceling out Roberto Pereyra’s opening goal at the Stadio Friuli, but Udinese nonetheless went ahead at half-time thanks to effort Beto two minutes later.
Kingsley Ehizibue added a third on 70 minutes, sealing Udinese’s first league win at home since defeating Inter in September.
Udinese took the lead after just nine minutes when Ismael Bennacer’s pass was intercepted after Fikayo Tomori was caught napping – Lazar Samardzic tucked in Pereyra, who rolled the ball into the far corner.
However, Milan had a golden opportunity to equalize just before half time when Jaka Bijol was deemed to have handled the ball while trying to dispossess Rafael Leao in the Udinese box.
Marco Silvestri initially saved Ibrahimovic’s penalty well to his left, but Beto’s encroachment gave the Swedish striker another chance, and he shot correctly down the middle.
However, Beto quickly made amends, benefiting from some good work from Isaac Success to restore the hosts’ lead.
Milan’s comeback hopes were further dented when Ehizibue converted the ball after a missed shot from Destiny Udogie.
Rade Krunic lashed out at Milan’s best subsequent chance, as their erratic form continued.
What does it mean? Milan stumbles again
A fifth loss in their last nine league games is a blow to Milan’s top four hopes, while Udinese move up to eighth as they look to move closer to the European places.
Despite Stefano Pioli’s team having 64 percent of the ball and 69 percent in the second half, Milan had fewer shots than their hosts (14-10).
They seemed to be back in Serie A after ending a five winless streak by winning three in a row, but now they are winless in three again (E1 L2).
Friulani finds its fire at home
Udinese manager Andrea Sottil received a red card for his passionate protests at the replay of Ibrahimovic’s penalty, but he will have been pleased with his side’s instant response and second-half performance.
They hadn’t won at home in nine league games since beating Inter (D6 L3), but in the end they defeated the other Milan team with relative ease.
The return of Zlatan inspires little
Considering his injury problems and age, Ibrahimovic played well in his first start in over a year, replacing the suspended Olivier Giroud and lasting 76 minutes.
Few others took the step, however, with Leao (three) being the only player besides Ibrahimovic (two) to take more than one shot, while Alexis Saelemaekers turned the ball over 16 times and recovered just once during his 64 minutes over the play field.
Opta Key Facts
– Ibrahimovic (156 goals) has equaled Roberto Mancini, Luigi Riva and Filippo Inzaghi in the 21st position of top scorers in the history of Serie A.
– Samardzic is the youngest player to score at least three goals and provide at least three assists in Serie A this season (four goals and three assists).
– Since the 1994-95 season, only Olivier Bierhoff (36) and Roberto Muzzi (45) have taken fewer games than Beto (55) to score 20 goals in Serie A for Udinese.
– Ibrahimovic, already the oldest outfield player in Serie A in the three-point-for-win era, is the third 41-year-old outfielder to start a Serie A game since that data became available ( 1994-95).
– Milan have lost four of their last five away games in Serie A (G1), as many away losses as in their previous 54 away games.
Udinese travel to Bologna on Sunday April 2 when Serie A returns after the international break, while Milan head to league leaders Napoli on the same day.