Football: Ibrahimovic winner lifts AC Milan gloom with victory at Cagliari

Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic (centre) celebrates with teammates after scoring during the Italian Serie A football match between Cagliari Calcio and AC Milan in Italy,on Jan 11, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MILAN (REUTERS) - Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored on his first start since returning to AC Milan as his side earned a 2-0 win away to Cagliari on Saturday (Jan 11) to end a three-match winless run in Serie A.

The Swede, who joined the Italian club for a second time on a free transfer in December, swept in a finish on the 64th minute after Rafael Leao's deflected strike broke the deadlock early in the second half.

Ibrahimovic, who made his second debut for the club off the bench during Monday's 0-0 draw with Sampdoria, has now scored a top-flight senior goal in four different decades.

The result elevates Milan to eighth place on 25 points ahead of the rest of the weekend's fixtures, after a run of three games without victory, in which they failed to score a single goal.

Cagliari have now suffered four consecutive league defeats, but remain in sixth place with 29 points.

"It's important for a striker to score; sometimes it goes in, sometimes it doesn't," Ibrahimovic told Sky Sport Italia.

"I feel good, I got a few things wrong at the start of the game, but I need a few matches to get into top form.

"The coach thinks about my age but it's not a problem, my mind is still sharp and the body must follow."

Milan coach Stefano Pioli selected Ibrahimovic alongside Leao in attack as he switched to a 4-4-2 formation, and the 38-year-old came close in the first half when his header was tipped onto the foot of the post by Cagliari goalkeeper Robin Olsen.

The visitors broke through within a minute of the restart when Leao latched onto a long Samu Castillejo pass and saw his low effort loop over Olsen and into the net after taking a big deflection.

Ibrahimovic topped off an impressive performance with a goal midway through the second half, when he directed a low left-footed shot into the bottom corner from 12 yards out.

The Swede thought he had a second in the closing stages when he headed home a cross, but the goal was disallowed for offside.

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