Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored one and created another for Kevin-Prince Boateng as Milan ended Atalanta’s unbeaten home record.
This was a Lombardy derby and a very difficult test for the Rossoneri, as Atalanta would be in sixth place without their six-point penalty. That betting scandal reared its head again over the Christmas break with ex-captain Cristiano Doni’s arrest, so the team wanted to wipe away those off the field issues. Milan had to completely revamp their midfield, as Massimo Ambrosini was suspended with Clarence Seedorf, Alberto Aquilani, Gennaro Gattuso, Mathieu Flamini, Antonio Cassano, Mario Yepes, Ignazio Abate were injured. Therefore Kevin-Prince Boateng went into a deeper midfield role with Urby Emanuelson as trequartista.
Thomas Manfredini just about did enough to stop Zlatan Ibrahimovic tapping in from close range, while German Denis fired over the bar and Simone Padoin blasted off target from an improbable angle.
There was controversy when Manfredini went diving in through the back of Alexandre Pato and Atalanta were furious, insisting the Brazilian had taken a step backwards. The referee awarded a penalty, which Ibrahimovic converted as a daisy-cutter into the near bottom corner.
Atalanta tried to fight back, but struggled to create chances, as Federico Peluso’s pass for Padoin was a touch too heavy.
Milan came so close to doubling their lead after the restart, but Pato nodded Emanuelson’s cross on to the woodwork from six yards!
Moments later, Luca Cigarini unleashed a blockbuster from distance that almost propelled Christian Abbiati back into his own net. Ibra went on the counter from that Atalanta corner, but lost it at the last second.
Atalanta also hit the frame of the goal, as a corner got a glancing touch off Simone Tiribocchi and found Denis at the back post, but he only prodded it on to the upright from less than a yard!
The Orobici were pouring forward with remarkable determination, but this left gaps at the back and Manfredini flung himself at Ibrahimovic’s shot like a human shield to force the corner.
The Rossoneri made it 2-0 with Boateng, though much of the credit goes to Ibrahimovic. The Swede chested down a long ball, got to the by-line and pulled back for Boateng to blast in off the underside of the crossbar.
Ibrahimovic was on a roll now, as he nutmegged Ferri to test Andrea Consigli at the near post, while Antonio Nocerino failed to finish off Robinho’s assist.