Milan sink Samp as Inter confirm draw king status
Adel Taarabt and Adil Rami scored either side of half-time to secure a precious 2-0 win for AC Milan away to 10-man Sampdoria on Sunday and keep the struggling Serie A giants' resurgence on track.
Milan, who replaced former coach Massimiliano Allegri with Clarence Seedorf following a 4-3 defeat by Sassuolo in early January, have now lost only once in the league under the 37-year-old Dutchman.
Milan's second win on the trot, following a 3-1 reverse to Napoli two weeks ago, was all the sweeter for the red and black half of Milan as city rivals Inter were held to a 1-1 draw by struggling Cagliari at the San Siro.
It was the Nerazzurri's 10th draw this season, a largely unenvied feat shared only by Cagliari.
The Rossoneri are now only five points behind Inter in the first Europa League qualifying spot, but Seedorf called for calm.
"The priority is for this squad to keep on growing, then the results will come. This win will give us a mental boost in that respect," Seedorf told Sky Sport Italia.
Leaders Juventus host Torino in the city derby later Sunday looking to restore their nine-point lead over second-placed Roma, who beat Bologna 1-0 away on Saturday, although the Giallorossi still have a game in hand.
Napoli, in third at 13 points off the leaders' pace, host Genoa in one of two matches programmed on Monday.
Milan travelled to the Luigi Ferraris stadium only days after a strenuous 1-1 draw at home to Champions League last 16 opponents Atletico Madrid, and wary of Sampdoria's resurgence under new coach Sinisa Mihajlovic.
However, Taarabt settled nerves in the 12th minute at the second time of asking after Angelo Da Costa had blocked the Moroccan's powerful header following a cross from the right.
France defender Rami headed Milan's second just before the hour, although there were protests after Giampaolo Pazzini rose to challenge Da Costa from a corner and left the'keeper on the ground.
Milan were handed a boost when Sampdoria striker Maxi Lopez saw red on 72 minutes after receiving two bookings in quick succession, the second for a gesture at the referee.
A week after a 3-0 rout at Roma, during which Daniele Gastaldello was sent off, Mihajlovic was furious with the Argentinian.
"These things make me crazy," said the Serbian.
"We can't afford to have players sent off needlessly. I will be speaking to Lopez on Tuesday."
Inter, meanwhile, confirmed their status as Serie A's draw kings after failing to capitalise on their clear domination of visitors Cagliari.
Mauricio Pinilla gave the Sardinians a 40th minute lead from the spot after a Juan Jesus handball but went on to waste a host of chances under the watchful eye of new owner Erick Thohir.
Inter, who were without Argentinian midfielder Hernanes, levelled seven minutes into the second half when Rolando swept home Mauro Icardi's smart header from the back post.
But the hosts went on to waste at least two clear chances to seal the win through Icardi and a late, long-distance free kick by Colombian Fredy Guarin which Vlada Avramov did well to keep out.
Inter coach Walter Mazzarri insisted his side had been denied a penalty when Icardi suffered a foul in the box.
But the former Napoli handler also applauded Cagliari's tactics.
"I don't usually want to talk about refereeing decisions, but this one was so blatant that I have to," Mazzarri told Sky Sport.
"Cagliari were strong against us. They came here with a team adapted to this kind of game."
Asked if he had felt the wrath of Thohir, the Italian added: "When you don't win of course you get angry. I don't know if he is, but I certainly am."