Cagliari and Milan shared the points in a 1-1 draw at the Sardenga Arena on Sunday as early goals in each half kept the scores level until the final whistle.
I Rossoneri had scored in their last 17 matches against Cagliari, averaging at least two goals a game against the home side.
However, they stumbled out of the blocks for this one and were made to play catch up as early as the fourth minute as Joao Pedro stuck the ball into the back of the net after Gianluigi Donnarumma palmed Leonardo Pavoletti's stinging shot on to the post.
Pedro's goal remained the sole separation when the teams headed into the halftime break, but it wasn't for the want of trying on both sides' part as they carved out a few chances ahead of the whistle.
The second period saw Milan burst to life. Gonzalo Higuain would level the score in the 55th minute with a calmly taken shot after rounding the Rossoblu keeper from a chance created by Franck Kessie.
The forward was presented with a late chance to seal the win for Milan when a cross sailed into the box from the left flank during stoppage time. But he could not get his header on target and Cagliari would hold out for the draw.
Key Talking Point
Milan's first-half defending was shockingly poor and they could have been down 3-0 before halftime if Cagliari had a bit more luck. The home team exploited spaces in the defence and were able to make their mark quite early, leaving the San Siro occupants on the back foot for most of the first half.
AC Milan has been incredibly bad— culé¹⁰ (@GiftSama) September 16, 2018
Cagiari were allowed to be as adventurous as they dared to be, especially in the opening minutes. And it paid off with a timely goal that allowed them to dictate the pace of the first period.
How did AC Milan reach this stage? To think that were once the power house of European football and now they are average— Ronald (@TheRealestRoger) September 16, 2018
Gennaro Gattuso will surely be upset with his side's defensive performance and, despite them controlling possession for most of the second half, should also be displeased with their attacking output as it led to very little over the course of the match.
Starting XI: Gianluigi Donnarumma (7), Ricardo Rodríguez (7), Alessio Romagnoli (5), Davide Calabria (6), Mateo Musacchio (6.5), Lucas Biglia (7), Franck Kessié (7.5), Giacomo Bonaventura (6), Hakan Calhanoglu (7), Suso (7), Gonzalo Higuaín (8).
Subs: Ignazio Abate, Tiemoué Bakayoko (6), Fabio Borini, Cristián Zapata, Frank Tsadjout, Samu Castillejo (7), Diego Laxalt (6), Andrea Bertolacci, José Reina, Mattia Caldara, José Mauri, Antonio Donnarumma.
Higuain was the one who got Milan back in the game with a second-half leveller and kept the pressure on the Rossoblu defence for most of the game, despite being isolated on many an occasion.
With Cristiano Ronaldo scoring his first goals for Juventus in an earlier match against Sassuolo, the Argentine has also opened his account for his new side and will be looking to have a bigger impact on upcoming fixtures.
Although he did save a point for I Rossoneri with his expertly-struck shot, Higuain is likely to be unhappy with the overall team performance and disappointed he wasn't able to do more, especially after missing a late header that could have won the match for Milan.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored for Juventus for the first time in the Serie A today. Gonzalo Higuain has scored for AC Milan for the first time today.— Ediye (@iamOkon) September 16, 2018
Good to see both on the scorers sheet.
Arguably Franck Kessie is the only player doing Milan credit against Cagliari. I feel for him, he is pressing on his own— Richard Hall (@RichHall80) September 16, 2018
Kessie also deserves a shout for his performance in midfield. While he appeared quite clumsy at times, the former Atalanta midfielder moved the ball around wisely and made a right nuisance of himself on defence. It was his insistence on recovering the ball that led to Higuain scoring and that shouldn't be overlooked.
Worst Player: Any Milan defender could have found his name here but Alessio Romagnoli did seem the least concentrated of them all. It's probably unfair to single him out for a communally poor showing, yet he could have done much better in this game and is actually quite fortunate Cagliari only scored once.
The San Siro side would have moved to the top half of the league table if they'd managed to take all three points, a huge leap from the 14th spot they presently occupy, but they're still expected to make it there after their next few games, with Atalanta, Empoli, Sassuolo and Chievo up next.