Milan beat Fiorentina 2-1 to knock a perhaps fatal blow to the Viola’s European qualification hopes with Gerard Deulofeu’s decider.
This was a crucial head-to-head for Europe, as they risked being left behind in the race for a top six finish. The Rossoneri welcomed back Gabriel Paletta and Juraj Kucka from suspension, but still missed Alessio Romagnoli, Mattia De Sciglio, Luca Antonelli, Giacomo Bonaventura and Riccardo Montolivo. Vincenzo Montella shelved the False 9 experiment for Carlos Bacca’s return. The Viola had Federico Bernardeschi banned, so Josip Ilicic got a rare start.
Fiorentina are without a victory at San Siro since the 2-0 result in November 2013, followed by a 1-1 draw and 2-0 defeat.
Gianluigi Donnarumma, in his final game before turning 18, got down to parry a Borja Valero daisy-cutter, but Milan took the lead.
Kucka got in front of his marker to nod a long Jose Sosa free kick into the far top corner.
It didn’t last long, as Federico Chiesa’s low cross from the right found Nikola Kalinic, who snuck up behind Gustavo Gomez to side-foot home from four yards. There were suspicions of offside from Chiesa, but it was very tight.
Gerard Deulofeu restored the advantage in a surprisingly open game, as Borja Valero lost the ball in midfield and the man on loan from Everton took two touches before sweeping into the far bottom corner with the inside of the right boot from just inside the area. It was a fine way to mark his debut Serie A goal.
Gonzalo Rodriguez’s header from an Ilicic free kick skimmed the bar, but Mario Pasalic saw his snapshot fingertipped on to the base of the near upright by Ciprian Tatarusanu.
In first half stoppages, Carlos Bacca was going clear on the counter when halted by an incorrect offside flag. Fiorentina were furious at the dawn of the second half, as Gustavo Gomez brought down Kalinic in the D, but the referee opted for a yellow card rather than a straight red.
The visitors missed a huge opportunity to equalise on 56 minutes, as Carlos Sanchez was totally unmarked on a free kick only to blast over from seven yards.
Fiorentina were taking more and more control in the second half, as Milan sat on their lead, so Montella changed to a 3-5-2 for the final 15 minutes.
Suso was correctly booked for simulation on Gonzalo Rodriguez, but his team were largely pinned back into their own half. When they did have the chance to counter, Bacca was sluggish and easily dispossessed by Gonzalo Rodriguez.
Ignazio Abate found himself in an attacking position, but fired straight at Tatarusanu and Sanchez blocked the Bacca follow-up, then Fiorentina countered from the same move only for Donnarumma to fly out into midfield to clear.