Kevin-Prince Boateng marked his comeback with a late winner for Milan, but 10-man Genoa slide closer to relegation.
Both clubs were in crisis after chaotic events on and off the field. On Sunday afternoon Milan scraped a 1-1 home draw with Bologna that left them three points adrift of leaders Juventus and saw Clarence Seedorf argue with Massimiliano Allegri. Genoa had their game with Siena suspended for 40 minutes when they were 4-0 down and the home fans staged a furious protest. The ultras demanded the players remove their jerseys, as they were “unworthy” of the club colours, until Giuseppe Sculli negotiated a truce for the match to continue.
Alberto Malesani was sacked for the second time this season after a three-month spell under Pasquale Marino, so Gigi De Canio took over for his debut on the Genoa bench. They had only a one-point gap from the relegation zone and were without a win since February 9.
As for the teams, Daniele Bonera, Giandomenico Mesto and Marco Rossi were suspended with the injured Alexandre Pato, Robinho, Seedorf, Philippe Mexes, Massimo Ambrosini, Thiago Silva, Gianluca Zambrotta and Pippo Inzaghi. Sculli bizarrely had to play as right-back.
Genoa had penalty appeals after eighht minutes when Alessandro Nesta came sliding in to block a Juraj Kucka strike and it hit his arm, but the referee judged it to be involuntary. It was an extremely controversial decision, as the arm was definitely raised.
Sculli intercepted a dangerous Antonio Nocerino cross from the right for the unmarked Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the back post.
It was an extremely sluggish start to the game, as Mark Van Bommel, Alberto Aquilani and Sulley Muntari had timid long-range attempts.
El Shaarawy had a good chance on the counter, but his angled drive after shaking away Emiliano Moretti was cleared off the line by Andreas Granqvist. A free kick was awarded to Genoa, as Granqvist was essentially barged into the net by Ibra.
Sculli nodded a Van Bommel cross out for a corner when Sebastien Frey did not call, then from that set play Muntari’s header was wide. Ibra’s free kick hit the wall and Muntari slipped when trying to get on the end of the rebound.
Granqvist was having a great game against the club that has been linked with his signature next season, stopping El Shaarawy’s counter with a well-timed challenge.
Christian Abbiati flew to palm away a tricky Valter Birsa free kick before half-time with Granqvist ready for the header, then on the counter Ibrahimovic tried to turn between two defenders in the box, but was closed down.
Straight after the restart Rodrigo Palacio went clear on the counter-attack and it required an excellent Nesta sliding tackle to stop him pulling the trigger in front of Abbiati. Moments later Abbiati got down to beat away a Birsa cross.
Massimiliano Allegri made a double change, introducing Antonio Cassano and Boateng’s comeback after three weeks out. Within seconds Ibrahimovic smacked a fierce half-volley that stung Frey’s palms at the near post.
Ex-Milan defender Kakhaber Kaladze went on a surprising run and skipped past old teammate Nesta, but was eventually closed down by Abbiati.
Boateng had a fantastic scoring opportunity on the hour mark when Luca Antonini crossed from the by-line and he was pulling the trigger on a spectacular volley from seven yards when a defender came flying in to charge it down.
Milan seemed to change gear with Cassano and Boateng on the field. Ibrahimovic knocked down an Ignazio Abate cross for Urby Emanuelson, who smacked the left-foot volley from the edge of the box that whistled inches past the far post, perhaps with a touch off Granqvist.
Abbiati smothered a fierce long-range Jankovic attempt, but Nocerino horribly scuffed a good scoring opportunity set up for him by Ibrahimovic.
Frey performed a splendid reaction save with his feet to parry a Mario Yepes strike from nine yards, but play was halted anyway for Muntari’s offside position.
Genoa got themselves reduced to 10 men when Jankovic received a second yellow card for bringing for Abate on the edge of the penalty area. It was a tense few days for Jankovic, who was involved in a training ground brawl with teammate Sculli yesterday.
Cassano curled a right-foot gem from the edge of the box that whistled just wide of the upright with Frey beaten.
San Siro fell silent when news filtered through that Juventus were winning at Cesena, but Boateng brought back the noise with a late strike.
The Ghanaian gathered a deflected Emanuelson cross and kept his cool to get it under control at the back post, then smash the angled drive beneath Frey’s body from six yards.
Sent off: Jankovic 72 (G)