MILAN (AP) – AC Milan picked up only its second win of the season, beating struggling Sampdoria 1-0 at San Siro, with Valter Birsa scoring his first goal since signing from Genoa in the offseason.
''It was more important to win than my goal,'' Birsa said. ''We had been playing well in matches but we hadn't managed to pick up the points we needed.
''What's important is the work of the squad, individuals can give a hand but all the players are important. We needed the goal to make us more comfortable.''
Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri had castigated his team for wasting too many chances after it again needed two late goals to rescue a 3-3 draw at Bologna midweek.
Forward Mario Balotelli sat out the second of a three-match ban, while Stephan El Shaarawy, Riccardo Montolivo, Mattia De Sciglio, Kaka, Giampaolo Pazzini and Matias Silvestre are still out injured.
Milan had been ordered to keep one end of San Siro - the Curva Sud - closed as punishment for discriminatory chants during the loss to Napoli. Fans responded by holding a protest outside the stadium with banners further insulting the Southern city of Naples.
There were also more anti-Neopolitan chants inside the stadium and a warning announcement had to be made by stadium officials. Milan could face further punishment.
Milan's profligacy in front of goal continued against Sampdoria, which had only two points heading into the match.
Kevin Constant was close to giving Milan the lead in the 17th minute but he volleyed Robinho's cross just past the left post. Phillipe Mexes was also inches away from connecting with a cross right in front of goal which would have almost certainly put Milan in front.
It was Samp which had the best chance of the first half, however, as Andrea Costa headed a corner just the wrong side of the right upright.
Milan was booed off the pitch at halftime but broke the deadlock 40 seconds after the restart when Robinho found Birsa for a fine low strike into the bottom right corner.
And it should have doubled its advantaged moments later. Birsa's effort was parried by Samp goalkeeper Junior da Costa but the ball eventually came to Robinho, who incredibly missed an open goal from a meter out.
Forward Alessandro Matri has yet to score since signing from Juventus in the offseason and he had a shot saved by Da Costa when one on one with the Samp goalie.
M'baye Niang should have secured the points in stoppage time with a low, angled drive which Da Costa managed to get a hand to, to deflect just past his right upright.