AC Milan goes five points clear at top with 2-1 win over Sampdoria

Milan's eighth victory of the season extended its unbeatenn streak to 10 matches - its longest run from the beginning of a Serie A campaign since 2003-04 under Carlo Ancelotti.

AC Milan celebrates a goal during the Serie A match between Sampdoria and AC Milan, at the Genoa Luigi Ferraris Stadium, Italy.   -  AP

Serie A leader AC Milan battled its way to a 2-1 win away to a dogged Sampdoria side to remain unbeaten in the league this season and stay five points clear at the top on Sunday.

Franck Kessie broke Sampdoria's resistance from a penalty in the 45th minute and substitute Samu Castillejo rifled in the second for Milan in the 77th minute before Albin Ekdal headed one back to set up a nerve-wracking finale for the visitor.

Milan, again missing leading scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic through injury, has 26 points from 10 games, with Inter Milan on 21 and Napoli and titleholder Juventus on 20. Sampdoria is 12th with 11 points.

 

The host wore special blue and white halved shirts, the original kit of the Andrea Doria club which merged with Sampierdarenese to form Sampdoria in 1946.

Sampdoria coach Claudio Ranieri, whose side is winless in its last six games in all competitions, was determined to make life as tough as possible for Milan and turned the first half into a midfield war of attrition with precious few chances.

The host had the first opening when Lorenzo Tonelli's header was saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma and Tonelli was also in action at the other end where he performed a miraculous clearance off the line to deny Ante Rebic.

Rebic ran onto a long ball forward and flicked it over goalkeeper Emil Audero towards the goal but Tonelli managed to hook it away with centimetres to spare, the ball hitting the post before bouncing away to safety.

Milan finally broke the deadlock in the final minute of the first half, Kessie scoring from the spot after Theo Hernandez's header was blocked by Jakob Jankto's trailing arm.

 

Sampdoria enjoyed its best spell of the game after the break with Morten Thorsby heading over from Antonio Candreva's cross.

Castillejo came on in the 76th minute and scored with his first touch one minute later, firing into the roof of the net after Rebic pulled the ball back from the byline.

Yet Milan had to cling on after Ekdal headed one back, and the Swede nearly grabbed an equaliser with another header but sent his effort over the bar with the very last move of the match.