He had to wait until February 26 and the 24th matchday of Serie A to play his first match of the season. Zlatan Ibrahimovic returned to competition with AC Milan on Sunday night against Atalanta Bergamo (2-0), nine months after having surgery on his left knee.

The club, defending champions, also found Mike Maignan in the cage, after five months of absence. Now rid of his calf injury, the goalkeeper of the Blues spent a quiet evening against a muzzled opponent and it was his compatriots Olivier Giroud and Theo Hernandez who unlocked this committed match. On a delivery of the first, the second took a volley from the left: his missile hit the post before entering after bouncing off the unfortunate goalkeeper Juan Musso (26th).

A huge clamor for Zlatan

Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his debut in the 74th minute, in place of Olivier Giroud, greeted by a huge clamour from San Siro. Twelve minutes later, Junior Messias scored the 2-0 goal to allow AC Milan to reach a total of 47 points, the same number as for Inter Milan, the current second in the league.

"They give me the strength, the adrenaline and the motivation to continue, without the help of the tifosi it's difficult," commented "Ibra", on DAZN, after the match about the reception of the supporters. "I feel good and it's been a year and two months since I felt like today. I felt free to do what I love: play football," he added, recalling that he had "suffered a lot during the last six months of last season" due to his knee pain.

Great architect of the revival of AC Milan since his return to the club, in January 2020, "Ibra", 41, had surgery on May 25, just after the conquest of the scudetto by the club rossonero. This operation aimed to "permanently resolve the instability" of his left knee, which had been suffering for several months, "thanks to the reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament," according to his club.

A goal expected since January 9, 2022

Despite his age and sore joint, Ibrahimovic extended his contract last summer until June 2023. However, he has not yet announced his intentions at the end of the season. Handicapped all the end of last season by his knee, the Swede has not scored since January 9, 2022.

"We improve with every training, today that's what I'm missing, I've only done three trainings," Ibrahimovic said. The Swede also assured that his ambition, for the end of the season, was "to play all the games" and not just to enter "for five or ten minutes" at the end of the game: "Whoever thinks like that is already finished. " His coach is warned.

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