ROME — Forward M'Baye Niang ended his AC Milan scoring drought in style, netting twice and setting up one in a convincing 4-1 win over visiting Sampdoria on Saturday.
The 20-year-old Niang hadn't scored in 35 previous Serie A appearances for Milan.
"As far as I'm concerned the season is just starting, and I've got to show what I'm capable of," Niang said, likening his playing style to that of Paris Saint-Germain forward Edinson Cavani.
After providing the cross for Giacomo Bonaventura's opener, Niang converted a penalty before halftime then intercepted a pass from Sampdoria's goalkeeper for another score after the interval.
Seconds earlier, Niang nearly scored with an acrobatic airborne backheel deflection following a free kick from Alessio Cerci.
It was Niang's second brace in Italy, having also scored two while on loan with Genoa last season.
"It's not a surprise to me," Milan coach Sinisa Mihajlovic said. "He's come back from an injury and is playing well. He already showed last season at Genoa what he's made of."
Luiz Adriano added another for Milan with a beautiful chest control and volley, and Eder converted a penalty for Sampdoria near the end for his 10th goal of the season, drawing him level with Napoli's Gonzalo Higuain atop the scoring chart.
Milan moved into fifth place, seven points behind leader and city rival Inter Milan, as coach Sinisa Mihajlovic got the better of his former club.
"We got a great result which we wanted after struggling in the last match," Bonaventura said, referring to a 1-0 loss to Juventus last weekend.
It was Samp's third straight loss and second consecutive under new coach Vincenzo Montells, who replaced the fired Walter Zenga.
Niang has made a few appearances for France Under-21s but is still waiting for his first call-up to the senior side.
"He's a solid, physical player," Bonaventura said. "We have a lot of good forwards. Let's hope they keep scoring a lot of goals."
Earlier, Torino beat visiting Bologna 2-0 with late goals from Andrea Belotti and Giuseppe Vives.
Torino moved into eighth, level on points with city rival Juventus.
Bologna, which lost for the first time under new coach Roberto Donadoni, remained 17th, two points above the relegation zone.
In Milan, Bonaventura redirected in Niang's cross from close range with the goalkeeper already beaten, to put the Rossoneri ahead.
Bonaventura may have had a chance for another goal but Sampdoria defender Lorenzo De Silvestri grabbed the midfielder's shirt, drawing a yellow card and setting up Niang's penalty.
Five minutes into the second half, an alert Niang intercepted a pass from goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano and promptly scored from within the area.
On Sunday, four-time defending champion Juventus visits Palermo, and fourth-place Roma hosts Atalanta.
On Monday, Inter visits Napoli in a 1 vs. 2 matchup, and third-place Fiorentina goes to Sassuolo.
Andrew Dampf on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/asdampf