Mario Balotelli bagged a brace as Milan swept Palermo aside, but there was controversy over an early Cristian Zapata incident.
Both sides had something of a rough week. The Rossoneri were beaten 4-0 by Barcelona to crash out of the Champions League, while the Sicilians welcomed back Giuseppe Sannino. He was fired in Week 3, but brought back after Gian Piero Gasperini, Alberto Malesani and Gasp again took the job.
Giampaolo Pazzini and Nigel De Jong were injured with Kevin Constant suspended. Palermo made the trip without Fabrizio Miccoli, Andrea Dossena, Edgar Barreto, Abel Hernandez and Andrea Mantovani.
With the first real opportunity, Salvatore Aronica blatantly pulled Balotelli by the jersey as a corner was whipped in and the referee pointed to the spot. SuperMario stepped up and coolly converted low into the near bottom corner despite Stefano Sorrentino guessing the right angle.
Kevin-Prince Boateng blasted over from distance, while Stephan El Shaarawy had a great chance when he cut inside to commit Steve Von Bergen, but had the finish charged down from point-blank range by Aronica.
Cristian Zapata foolishly stuck out an elbow to intercept Paulo Dybala’s pass for Josip Ilicic. Palermo wanted a straight red for preventing a clear goal-scoring opportunity, but the referee opted for a yellow. From that free kick, Ilicic twice fired straight at the defensive wall.
Dybala volleyed well wide, then Christian Abbiati had to fingertip a Michel Morganella daisy-cutter round the base of the near post.
Ilicic went on the counter and his finish seemed fairly weak, but Abbiati slipped and only just about kept it out with his trailing hand.
Palermo were still very much in the game and Dybala – who was offside – forced a tough save out of Abbiati at the base of the near post with an angled drive.
Sorrentino denied Boateng on the counter, then the Ghanaian was again ready to run clear on goal before Morganella’s decisive tackle.
Milan were running far too many risks at the back, as Mathieu Flamini had to intercept a very dangerous Ilicic counter-attack and Dybala’s pass into the middle was cleared with some difficulty.
However, the Rossoneri doubled their lead with Balotelli’s second of the game. M’Baye Niang flew down the left and his cross took a couple of ricochets off Aronica and Sorrentino, so Mario just had to tap it in from six yards.
Niang rolled in another cross from the left, but this time Balotelli couldn’t quite get on the end of it.
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