Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s penalty and a stunning Urby Emanuelson solo effort secured Milan’s 2-0 victory away to Parma on Gennaro Gattuso's comeback.
The Rossoneri hoped to maintain or even extend their four-point lead at the top of the table with this visit to the sold out Stadio Tardini, but had numerous problems to contend with.
Robinho, Mark Van Bommel and Ignazio Abate are the latest additions to the treatment table, which includes Alexandre Pato, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Alessandro Nesta, Antonio Cassano, Mathieu Flamini, Alexander Merkel, Rodney Strasser and the suspended Philippe Mexes. Parma missed Massimo Gobbi, Raffaele Palladino and Daniele Galloppa, but opted to start ex-Inter winger Jonathan and placed Jaime Valdes in front of the defence. Milan President Silvio Berlusconi was in the stands for a very rare away game and Gennaro Gattuso was on the bench for the first time in six months due to his eye condition.
Sebastian Giovinco ran on to a long ball over the top to burst past Daniele Bonera, but was halted for an extremely tight offside position. The Atomic Ant pounced on another error only to blast over, then Valdes drilled just wide from the edge of the box after dribbling past Sulley Muntari and Bonera.
However, Milan received a penalty with their first real attempt on goal. Zlatan Ibrahimovic knocked down a cross and Urby Emanuelson’s half-volley was deflected off target by Zaccardo’s raised arm. Ibra stepped up and coolly converted by sending Antonio Mirante the wrong way for his 20th Serie A goal of the season.
Another Ibra knock-down saw Massimo Ambrosini’s shot charged down. Ibrahimovic’s free kick was well palmed off the line by Mirante, but Emanuelson somehow ballooned the follow-up over the bar from a yard.
It got worse for Parma, who lost MacDonald Mariga to injury, moving Gianluca Musacci into the Valdes role.
Sulley Muntari won back possession in midfield to spark an Ibra counter, but when he fell under a Zaccardo challenge, the referee waved play on. There appeared to be contact on his ankle, but how much is unclear.
A promising Parma corner came to Sergio Floccari, who didn’t get enough power on to his shot from nine yards, allowing Christian Abbiati to smother.
The Ducali went even closer moments later, as Gabriel Paletta’s header was deflected off Thiago Silva on to the crossbar. However, at the other end Ibra pounced on a poor Stefano Morrone backpass and Mirante came tearing out to clear, then Emanuelson drilled wide from another Alessandro Lucarelli error.
A dangerous Giovinco counter-attack from Mirante's goal kick was stopped short by smart positioning from Luca Antonini. In first half stoppages a wayward Jonathan Biabiany cross turned into a shot that skimmed the back post by a matter of inches.El Shaarawyhad the last shot of the first half, though, as he sprinted to the by-line and cracked an effort against the upright.
Straight after the restart, Thiago Silva charged down a Floccari effort, while a Jonathan snapshot was comfortably blocked by Abbiati after a strong team move. Giovinco turned Bonera inside out at the by-line and rolled across to force a corner, as Parma started very aggressively.
Ibrahimovic controlled and turned with a magnificent first touch to commit Zaccardo, but Mirante did well to parry with his legs at the near post.
Milan doubled their lead when Emanuelson gathered in his own half and sprinted through the middle, dribbled round Mirante to deposit into an empty net. It was a fantastic solo effort from the Dutchman.
Emanuelson almost completed a brace from the Ibrahimovic assist, but fired wide under pressure. Mirante parried another Ibrahimovic long-range free kick with some difficulty.
Giovinco’s angled drive went wide, then Francesco Valiani pounced on a lucky ricochet to volley low, but Bonera flung himself at the shot to charge it down from point-blank range.
Abbiati flew to palm Musacci screamer one-handed when it took a dangerous deflection off Thiago Silva’s heel.
There was a very special moment in stoppages, as Gattuso made his comeback for the first time since September 9, when he was diagnosed with the paralysis of the optic nerve.
Floccari had a chance to get a consolation goal deep into injury time, but his left-foot turn and shot cannoned off the crossbar with Abbiati wrong-footed.