By Alasdair Mackenzie
ROME -Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his 150th Serie A goal as AC Milan inflicted Jose Mourinho’s first home defeat in the Italian top flight with a 2-1 win over AS Roma at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday to keep pace with Serie A leaders Napoli.
The 40-year-old striker rifled a low free-kick into the bottom corner in the 25th minute to put the visitors ahead after a lively start, his 400th goal in total in domestic leagues.
Ibrahimovic had a brilliantly finished second ruled out for offside after the break, just like team mate Rafael Leao in the first half, before going down under Roger Ibanez’s challenge to earn a spot kick that Franck Kessie converted in the 57th.
Milan were reduced to 10 men for the final 25 minutes after left back Theo Hernandez was shown a second yellow card, but Stephan El Shaarawy’s stoppage-time strike was not enough to rescue the game for Roma.
Mourinho appeared furious at the end of a frantic match as his run of 43 unbeaten home Serie A games came to an end.
That streak included two title-winning seasons at Inter Milan between 2008 and 2010 and his spell at Roma, who he joined in the close season and who had not lost at home since March.
“Congratulations to Milan. I do not want to say anything else because otherwise I will not be on the bench on Sunday,” Mourinho, who was unhappy with the officials, told DAZN.
“The lack of respect for our fans angers me a bit.”
The victory leaves Milan second, level on 31 points with leaders Napoli, who they trail on goal difference, and 12 points ahead of fourth-placed Roma. Inter Milan are third on 24.
Milan became the fourth team in Serie A history to win 10 of their opening 11 games in a season after Roma, Napoli (twice, including this season) and Juventus (twice).
“These games give us strength, conviction and morale. We must ride the wave of this positive moment, while staying focused,” Milan manager Stefano Pioli told DAZN.
“We played a great game 11 against 11. We must play certain games with this personality, because in football you never know how long a moment like this lasts. Now is the time to be bold, not fearful.”
The game began at a high tempo but neither side could find the target with their efforts until Ibrahimovic struck a powerful free-kick into the bottom corner, bypassing the wall to beat goalkeeper Rui Patricio.
Leao and Ibrahimovic had goals ruled out for offside either side of the break after both forwards finished exquisitely, but the Rossoneri did double their lead when Ibanez collided with Ibrahimovic in the box following a quick Milan counter-attack.
Roma protested the decision and referee Fabio Maresca had a second look on the pitchside Video Assistant Referee (VAR) monitor but stood by his original call and Kessie converted from 12 yards.
Hernandez, returning to the Milan team after recovering from COVID-19, earned a second yellow card for taking down Lorenzo Pellegrini on the edge of the box, which will rule him out of next weekend’s derby against Inter Milan through suspension.
Roma struggled to make their numerical advantage tell until late on when El Shaarawy smashed the ball home in stoppage time and fellow substitute Carles Perez had a fierce shot palmed away by the diving Ciprian Tatarusanu.
(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; Editing by Ken Ferris)