AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli has hit cloud nine following the return of Sweden international Zlatan Ibrahimovic after injury set back
Injury has deprived Milan of Ibrahimovic’s services for much of the season but on his return the goals have started flowing.
The 39-year-old striker produced another stellar performance in Milan’s 2-0 win at Cagliari on Monday Pioli’s side to the top of the Serie A ladder. An impressed Pioli described the former PSG and Manchester United ace as a champion who continues to surprise him
“He is a champion in everything he does. With his comeback, we have other tactical possibilities and we are very happy to have him,” Pioli told reporters.
“He still manages to surprise me, even though I know him well by now. We must expect the best from him, but today he also did something beyond that.”
Back in the starting line-up for the first time in a Serie A match since picking up a thigh injury against Napoli on November 22, it took Ibrahimovic less than seven minutes to give Milan the lead as he scored from the penalty spot.
The Swede showed no weariness in his legs as he latched onto a long ball over the top to double Milan’s lead in the 52nd minute, taking his league tally for the season to 12 goals, which is second only to Cristiano Ronaldo’s haul of 15.
Although Milan lost their unbeaten Serie A record while their top goalscorer was sidelined, they won five of their eight league games during the Swede’s absence.
Milan top the standings with 43 points from 18 matches, three clear of city rivals Inter Milan and 10 clear of champions Juventus, who are fifth and have a game in hand.
Approaching the halfway point in the season, Milan will be hoping Ibrahimovic continues to keep up the scoring rate – he averages 1.73 goals per game – as they chase a first Serie A title in a decade.