Zlatan Ibrahimovic bagged a brace around Robinho’s tap-in, as Milan cruised to a 3-0 victory in Novara.
The Rossoneri were desperate to get back on track after the derby defeat ended their run of 10 wins and 12 draws, not to mention lost their chances of becoming Winter Champions. They also played Novara midweek and were forced into extra time to beat them 2-1 for a place in the Coppa Italia quarter-finals, so confidence was very low.
Kevin-Prince Boateng and Alessandro Nesta were suspended, while the injury crisis ruled out Christian Abbiati, Alexandre Pato, Gennaro Gattuso, Alberto Aquilani, Gianluca Zambrotta, Mathieu Flamini, Mario Yepes and Antonio Cassano. Novara had Massimo Paci and Paolo Hernan Dellafiore out on bans, plus Carlalberto Ludi, Alex Pinardi and Andrea Lisuzzo sidelined.
After 12 minutes Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s fierce free kick from the D was beaten away by Samir Ujkani, but Robinho horribly missed the follow-up from a yard, flashing his shot across the face of goal.
Another Ibrahimovic free kick caused huge problems for Ujkani, who saw it bounce off his chest and out for a corner. From the resulting set play, Thiago Silva had a free header from six yards, but a desperate goalline clearance by Andrea Caracciolo saved Novara.
Ibra forced another unorthodox save from Ujkani, who struggled to parry a snapshot from the edge of the box.
It was turning into a siege on the Novara goal, as Antonio Nocerino spun round to skim the far post with a well-taken strike. Another goalline clearance kept out Philippe Mexes’ angled drive.
Stephan El Shaarawy came on for the second half, moving Emanuelson to left-back, but Novara had a great chance straight away with Caracciolo on the counter seeing his shot fingertipped inches past the back stick.
The ‘Little Pharaoh’ also threatened with his header off target, but Milan finally found a way through the Novara brick wall on 57 minutes.
Ibrahimovic sprung the offside trap on a smart Massimo Ambrosini chipped pass over the top and kept his cool for a stop and flick past the on-rushing Ujkani from six yards.
El Shaarawy should’ve made it 2-0, as he skipped away from his marker and the goalkeeper, but the angle was too narrow and he only hit the side-netting.
Milan did double their lead moments later, as Nocerino pulled back for El Shaarawy’s shot, which turned into an assist for Robinho to come sliding in at the back post. However, Novara were furious, as Nocerino appeared to handle in the build-up.
Ibrahimovic put the final nail in Novara’s coffin when Ujkani flapped an El Shaarawy cross and the Swede pounced, sneakily flicking it back into an empty net with his back to goal.