Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Antonio Nocerino secured Milan’s 2-0 victory in Genoa after former teammate Kakha Kaladze was sent off, temporarily putting them top.
The Rossoneri were hoping to continue their climb up the table and were in splendid form, but Alexandre Pato pulled out an hour before kick-off when he came down with a flu virus. Instead, Robinho stepped into the starting XI, while Alessandro Nesta, Christian Abbiati, Gennaro Gattuso, Mathieu Flamini and Antonio Cassano were injured. Genoa top scorer Rodrigo Palacio sat out a ban, so Lucas Pratto and Bosko Jankovic led the way.
Within 90 seconds Marco Rossi just about managed to get his toe to the ball just as Antonio Nocerino had chested down and was ready to pull the trigger. Nocerino threatened again as he burst forward through the middle, but this time Sebastien Frey sprinted off his line to smother.
Play had to be halted after 15 minutes, as there were scuffles outside the stadium and tear gas floated into the arena, affecting fans, players and the referee. It has long been a tense fixture, especially after Genoa fan Vincenzo Spagnolo was stabbed to death outside San Siro on January 29 1995, which is why Milan fans weren’t allowed to travel for this game until last year. Once the gas had dissipated, the teams came back on to the pitch.
When play resumed, Kevin-Prince Boateng’s daisy-cutter struck the side-netting, while Ignazio Abate’s low cross went past two dummies for Nocerino to skim the back post. Moments later, Frey beat away a Zlatan Ibrahimovic left-foot snapshot. Milan were piling on the pressure, as Ibra threaded through for Massimo Ambrosini, who tripped just as he was pulling the trigger.
Genoa finally emerged as Miguel Veloso tried to score directly from a free kick down the right side of the pitch, forcing Marco Amelia to fingertip over the bar. Giandomenico Mesto intercepted a Thiago Silva clearance and was tackled in the box by Mario Yepes, then flashed a shot across the face of goal. Veloso pounced on another poor clearance for Amelia to block on the ground.
However, after the restart ex-Milan defender Kakha Kaladze went very late on Ibrahimovic for a penalty and second yellow card. It was Genoa’s fifth sending off of the campaign. The Swede got back on his feet to smash the penalty under the crossbar.
Robinho fired over from a yard against Barcelona last week, but someone managed to repeat the trick! On the hour mark Alberto Aquilani steered a ball back from the by-line and the Brazilian horribly ballooned over an open goal.
However, Genoa threatened an equaliser when Rossi’s backheel flick from a low Alexander Merkel cross skimmed the base of the near post.
Milan did double their lead when Boateng skipped past his marker down the left and flashed a ball across the six-yard box for Nocerino to tap in. It was his fifth goal of the season, already a personal best for the ex-Palermo midfielder.
It could’ve been 3-0, but Nocerino’s screamer was palmed away with one strong hand by Frey, but it still represents Genoa's first home defeat since April.
Sent off: Kaladze 55 (G)