There was much enthusiasm for the new season after a busy transfer window, but Lazio were vastly inferior to AC Milan on the day as Pippo Inzaghi got his managerial career off to a flier with a 3-1 win that never looked in doubt.
Lazio were sluggish to begin with to say the least. The midfield looked disjointed and the defence seemed to lack the required levels of organisation and Milan did not need much time to capitalise on our weakness. A poor Dusan Basta clearance left the Serbian in no-man's-land and the Italian international with plenty of space to run into. Stefan De Vrij showed El Shaarawy a lot of respect with his poor attempt to intervene and this left Lorik Cana stranded as the simplest of square balls found Keisuke Honda who had the simple task of slotting the ball home through the legs of Etrit Berisha. The Albanian goalkeeper could have made himself bigger or smaller and he would have saved it, but he gave Japan's finest too much daylight to aim for and it was 1-0. You could and perhaps should also question Radu who was out of picture when he should have been tracking Honda's run.
Milan proceeded to dominate the game without creating any concrete chances. Just before the midway point of the first half, El Shaarawy did flash an excellent delivery across goal but there were not enough bodies in the area to take advantage.
Lazio were beginning to come into the game with Senad Lulic looking particularly lively. Milan were struggling to keep him at bay and the Bosnian did fashion a good opportunity as an overlapping run put him in an excellent position to pick out Miroslav Klose but Cristian Zapata read it well and got it out of danger. Minutes later, Antonio Candreva also had a good chance to put the ball into the box following a short corner, but he opted to hit a timid shot into the hands of Diego Lopez.
Lazio were showing glimpses of excellence, but ultimately it was very comfortable for Milan and the home side continued to threaten. Keisuke Honda and Stephan El Shaarawy were making light work of Lazio's wing-backs and Radu can count himself lucky to have stayed on the pitch as he shoulder barged El Shaarawy in a dangerous position having already been booked.
Lazio did have time for one encouraging moment before the end of the first half. Some exquisite possession play and movement left Dusan Basta with the perfect opportunity to shoot on his left foot but the right-back bottled it and looked to get it on his right giving Milan enough time to get back in position and dispossess him. Lazio clearly had the ability to get back in the game, but they were not doing enough on the ball and there were too many players out there having a bad day.
Curiously, Lazio came out for the second half looking physically and mentally drained, as if Stefano Pioli had ordered his boys to do laps of the dressing room. The game was opening up as Lazio needed to go looking for a second, but it was concerning to see Pioli having to beg his players to go forward. The spirit, the attitude, the desire needed to win this game was not present and Milan needed only 10 minutes of the second half to double their tally.
It was an inexcusable goal to concede from Lazio's point of view. El Shaarawy once again coasted past the captain Radu as if he was not there and his cross into the middle was inch perfect . The defence was all over the place as De Vrij and Cana appeared to cover the same bit of ground - presumably the Dutchman's error - and Parolo and Basta could do nothing about Muntari who was left unmarked and with the easiest of finishes. 2-0, and you could see no way back for Lazio.
Pioli had to roll the dice. Miroslav Klose and Keita Balde Diao - both of whom were completely in effective - were dragged off as the ex-Bologna manager sent on Filip Djordjevic and Felipe Anderson in search of a goal. Instead, two soon became three for Milan. Moments after picking up a yellow for the most deliberate of pull backs, De Vrij put his arms on Jeremy Menez in the penalty area and the Frenchman went to ground giving the referee no alternative but to blow for a penalty. Simulation, yes, but the referee had an obscured view of two Dutch hands on a Milan shirt. Menez stepped up to take the penalty and made no mistake. 3-0, and Lazio had a mountain to climb now.
Milan took their foot off the gas and allowed Lazio to grab a quick consolation goal. Antonio Candreva's deliveries had been off all evening to put it mildly, but a good ball towards Djordjevic had Milan in a pickle and Ignazio Abate ended up putting the ball past a bemused Diego Lopez. There was hope, but Lazio still needed a miracle to emerge victorious from this game.
Pioli gave Stefano Mauri 20 minutes to make his mark, hauling off Lulic who was probably Lazio's best player on the night, but the Romans looked no better for it. Lazio were still too reliant on Candreva's crosses, and they were not finding their mark, although Mauri did have a good opportunity as Milan failed to clear their lines. Sadly, Stefano dragged his effort wide of the goal although he appeared to gesture to the referee that he was put off by noise from the crowd.
Milan's M'baye Niang came on with 10 minutes ago and immediately had a chance to put the game to bed, and Felipe Anderson also had to make a last-ditch tackle minutes later to keep the scoreline respectable. Dusan Basta and Antonio Candreva had shooting opportunities from difficult angles late in the game, and some quick-thinking from Stefano Mauri on a free-kick left Djordjevic with a good opportunity to claw another back but he did not connect with it. Lucas Biglia had a wild effort before the final whistle, but it was not to be.
Credit to Lazio, the players continued to fight and Antonio Candreva did well to win himself a penalty in the dying seconds, but his attitude in taking the penalty was unforgiveable. Minimal effort, and an easy save for Diego Lopez although Milan were unable to clear their lines and Candreva had a glorious opportunity to make amends seconds letter but he put no effort into his header either and sent it wide of the post.
A comfortable win for Milan in the end, and serious question marks hover over this Lazio. The defensive organisation is excusable given the new recruits, but the performance levels across the pitch were not good enough. Milan's trio made mince meat of the backline, but as mentioned in the preview, Lazio possess the weapons to do the same to the Milan defence but at no point did they fire.
Pioli has an awful lot of work to do now over the international break and sadly, a lot of the players who need a rollicking or two will miss that rollicking as they go off on international duty. Lotito and Tare, who were present at the San Siro, looked gobsmacked in the stands and one wonders if they will be tempted to venture into negotiations at the ATAHotel tomorrow. It is early days, but it is hard not to be worried after such a display.