Minnows Cesena stunned AC Milan 2-0 on Saturday as big-money signings Robinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who missed a penalty, suffered nightmare debuts.
Meanwhile, champions Inter secured their first Serie A victory of the season with a 2-1 success at home to Udinese, but the real drama happened in Cesena, where goals from Erjon Bogdani and Emanuele Giaccherini put Milan’s stars to shame.
Two seasons ago, Cesena were plying their trade in the third tier of Italian soccer, but with this win they proved they deserve their place among the elite.
Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri blamed his team for not dealing with Cesena’s counterattacks.
“We didn’t start badly and we had a couple of chances at 0-0 to go in front,” Allegri said. “We knew beforehand that they were good on the counterattack, but we still conceded two goals. We made life easy for them on the things they do well.”
Cesena opened the scoring with a delightful and simple move as Giaccherini spread the ball from left to right, where Luca Ceccarelli brought the ball down on his chest and volleyed it across goal for Bogdani to glance home a header.
Milan had plenty of chances, with Ronaldinho bringing a save out of Francesco Antoniolli, the oldest goalkeeper in the league at 40, with a curling effort. Pato then headed straight at the goalkeeper having got above marker Yuto Nagatomo, while his cross-shot then hit Ibrahimovic before falling to Antoniolli.
As Milan pushed forward they were caught again a minute before the break when Stephen Appiah’s clearing header found Bogdani, who rolled marker Sokratis Papastathopoulos and released Giaccherini, who scampered in on goal and beat Cristian Abbiati with a crisp shot.
Pato had the ball in the net for the visitors after the break, but it was ruled out for a handball, while Ibrahimovic hit the post with a late penalty to compound his personal misery.
At the San Siro, Samuel Eto’o scored the Inter winner after Antonio Floro Flores had canceled out Lucio’s early opener, but it was a struggle throughout for Rafael Benitez’s men.
“Of course, the important thing was to win,” Benitez said. “We had a very good start, but then we lost control in midfield and they had some dangerous counters. Then, after we went ahead and we didn’t get the third goal, we didn’t play well at the end. We were a bit nervous.”
The Spaniard sprung to the defense of last season’s star Diego Milito, who once again fired blanks and was replaced late on.
“Milito is working very well, he’s got quality, but he just needs time and he will improve little by little,” the coach said.
Inter were off to a dream start as Lucio was left free at the back post to calmly take down a Wesley Sneijder corner and volley home on seven minutes, but although the champions seemed to be in control, they created little and the visitors equalized on 31 minutes.
Alexis Sanchez took a short corner, got the return, then crossed for Floro Flores to arrive late and get above Lucio to power home a header from close range.
The winner came from the spot on 67 minutes after substitute Gabriele Angella needlessly handled a cross from Sneijder. Samir Handanovic saved Eto’o’s initial effort, but the follow-up fell kindly to the Cameroonian who slotted home.
Cagliari are the early La Liga pace-setters, leading Cesena on goal difference, after thrashing 10-man AS Roma 5-1 as Nicolas Burdisso was dismissed for a horror two-footed lunge.
Daniele Conti opened the scoring for the hosts with a scorcher on eight minutes, but Daniele De Rossi equalized 10 minutes later with a header from a Francesco Totti corner.
Then Burdisso gave away a penalty and earned a red card for a terrible tackle, allowing Alessandro Matri to score from the spot.
Burdisso’s younger brother Guillermo was brought on to shore up the defense in place of captain Totti, but Robert Acquafresca then scored with a header. Matri added the fourth two minutes after the break and Andrea Lazzari wrapped things up two minutes from time.
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