Rafael Leao and Junior Messias were on target as AC Milan got back to winning ways to reclaim their place at the top of Serie A with an unconvincing triumph over struggling Genoa.
Having failed to score in back-to-back games, Milan ended their goal drought after just 11 minutes to ease the early tension at San Siro. Pierre Kalulu’s cross beautifully picked out the run of Leao whose first-time side-footed finish nestled in the back of the net.
Despite such a bright opening, the hosts failed to build on their first-half lead and although they looked in complete control, Genoa midfielder Pablo Galdames gave them an almighty scare when he went close on the stroke of half-time.
Stefano Pioli’s side failed to get into kind of rhythm after the restart, creating only a couple of half chances as the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza grew anxious once more before substitute Junior Messias finally made sure of the points just three minutes before full-time.
The victory lifts Milan back to the summit and two points above Inter, although their great rivals have a game in hand. Napoli are five points further behind in third.
TALKING POINT – MILAN JUST GET OVER THE LINE
Milan are back to winning ways having had their title credentials questioned after recent dropped points. That was crucial as they embark on a difficult run-in, with Lazio (a) and Fiorentina (h) to follow next, particularly after Inter’s routine victory at Spezia earlier on Friday.
The performance was far from vintage but results are the most important thing at this stage of the season. The Rossoneri will take five more scrappy, flat performances as long as they yield the required results to end their 11-year wait for the Scudetto.
They may be lacking in imagination offensively but there can’t be any questions at the back. Six consecutive clean sheets in Serie A is testament to their resilient defence and could prove vital in their bid for success.
MAN OF THE MATCH – FIKAYO TOMORI (AC MILAN)
In a dull game in which the defences were largely on top, Milan’s centre-back stood out with another calm and assured display. The Rossoneri have now kept six consecutive clean sheets and the former Chelsea man has been integral to that. For how much longer can Gareth Southgate exclude him from the England squad?
Milan: Maignan 6, Calabria 6, Gabbia 6, Tomori 8*, Theo Hernandez 7, Tonali 6, Bennacer 6, Saelemaekers 6, Kessie 6, Leao 7, Giroud 6.. subs: Junior Messias 7, Rebic 6, Krunic 5, Diaz N/A, Ballo-Toure N/A,
Genoa: Sirigu 6, Hefti 6, Ostigard 6, Bani 7, Vasquez 5, Galdames 5, Badelj 6, Ekuban 5, Amiri 6, Frendrup 5, Piccoli 5.. subs: Destro 5, Melegoni 5, Yeboah 5, Gudmundsson N/A, Hernani N/A.
11′ – GOAL! AC MILAN 1-0 GENOA (RAFAEL LEAO): The early goal Milan had been craving! The drought is over! Kalulu whips a beautiful cross to the back post, picking out the run of Leao and it’s quite simply a brilliant finish as he places a first-time side-footed effort into the corner of the net!
45’+1 – BIG CHANCE FOR GENOA! Just when the commentator had written their chances off, Genoa go and create a huge chance! Galdames sneaks in behind Milan’s high defence, turns but can’t keep his effort down.
87′ – GOAL! AC MILAN 2-0 GENOA (JUNIOR MESSIAS): The relief inside the San Siro! Junior Messias doubles Milan’s advantage! Rebic crosses, Messias sees his first effort saved by Sirigu but the gets to his feet quickly and makes no mistake with the rebound! VAR has a check to see if Rebic used his hand, but no, the goal will STAND!