Football: Maldini scores on full debut as AC Milan go top

AC Milan's Daniel Maldini (right) in action during a match against Spezia Calcio, in La Spezia, Italy, on Sept 25, 2021.
AC Milan's Daniel Maldini (right) in action during a match against Spezia Calcio, in La Spezia, Italy, on Sept 25, 2021.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MILAN (REUTERS) - One of Italian football's most famous names returned to a Serie A score sheet on Saturday (Sept 25) when Daniel Maldini netted in a 2-1 win for AC Milan over Spezia on his first league start for the club.

The 19-year-old followed in the footsteps of his father Paolo and grandfather Cesare, two Milan greats, by scoring in Italy's top flight with a 48th-minute header, which sent the Rossoneri top of the table.

Daniele Verde's heavily deflected strike drew the home side level at the Stadio Alberto Picco, but a late goal from substitute Brahim Diaz restored Milan's lead.

Milan climbed to first place with 16 points ahead of the rest of the weekend's fixtures. Spezia are 17th with four points.

Stefano Pioli opted to hand Maldini his first start after a gruelling run of four games in 10 days for his side.

The coach's decision paid off when the teenager got in front of his marker to head in Pierre Kalulu's cross after the break, following a first half lacking in chances.

Maldini became the third generation of his family to score for the club after his grandfather Cesare and father Paolo, both former Italian and European champions with the Rossoneri.

The goal came 13 years and 179 days after Paolo's last Serie A strike in 2008, while Cesare last achieved the feat 60 years and 22 days ago in 1961.

A beaming Paolo Maldini, who is now technical director at Milan, was in the stands to celebrate his son's achievement.