Milan 5-1 Sampdoria: Giroud hat-trick sees Rossoneri maintain top-four push
Olivier Giroud's hat-trick helped Milan maintain their push for Champions League qualification as they cruised to a comfortable 5-1 victory over Serie A's bottom club Sampdoria.
Giroud netted a first-half double and added a third following the break at San Siro on Saturday to keep the Rossoneri – who were licking their wounds after falling short to rivals Inter in the Champions League semi-finals – on track in their pursuit of a place in the top four.
Rafael Leao opened the scoring, though already-relegated Sampdoria restored parity through veteran forward Fabio Quagliarella.
But after Giroud's quickfire double, Brahim Diaz got in on the act before the France forward rounded off his hat-trick to cap an emphatic success.
Milan needed just nine minutes to carve open their visitors, with Leao latching onto Diaz's lob delivery outside the box before slotting a low finish past Nicola Ravaglia.
Sampdoria seized a shock equaliser against the run of play when Quagliarella drilled an Alessandro Zanoli cut-back beyond Mike Maignan, but parity was short-lived.
Giroud restored Milan's lead three minutes later when he nodded Diaz's cross in, before converting a penalty after Leao was felled by Koray Gunter.
Any comeback hopes Sampdoria may have harboured heading into the second half were extinguished in the 63rd minute, with Diaz tucking home from Sandro Tonali's square pass.
Giroud completed his hat-trick five minutes later, with the striker shrugging off Bram Nuytinck to smash home at close-range and seal the deal.
What does it mean? Milan bounce back
After exiting the Champions League in dour fashion to their biggest rivals, the Rossoneri needed a response to keep their hopes of playing in UEFA's flagship club competition next season alive.
They did so in emphatic fashion, and while critics may deride Sampdoria as an easy test, they nevertheless regained some crucial flair and fluency in their game, having 19 shots and getting nine of them on target.
Leao lords it up
Giroud might take the headlines, but Leao was once again a standout performer.
Leao has now been involved in 21 goals this term, his best in a single Serie A season. It is the first time a Milan player has tallied more than 20 involvements in one campaign since Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2011-12.
Milan will do well to keep hold of the Portugal international.
Quagliarella keeps on going
A lone consolation in the end as Milan raced away with the game, the Sampdoria captain's finish nevertheless saw him extend his impressive scoring record.
He has now netted in 18 different Serie A campaigns, making him just the fourth man to do so. The outright record is held by Francesco Totti, with 23.
Key Opta stats
- Giroud's hat-trick ends a seven-year wait for a three-goal haul, after last netting one for Arsenal against Aston Villa in May 2016.
- Only Ligue 1 team Angers (27) have lost more games in the big five European leagues than Sampdoria (24) this term.
- Díaz has provided 7 assists in Serie A this season, while only Kevin De Bruyne has provided more in the big five European leagues in 2023.
- Milan have scored more goals in the first 30 minutes of Serie A games this season than any other side (21).
- Pioli has now won 100 games with Milan in all competition, while he has overtaken 700 points in Serie A (702).
Sampdoria host Sassuolo on Friday before Milan make the trip to Juventus two days later.