Keisuke Honda’s debut Serie A goal gave Milan a 2-1 win in Genoa, though they were under siege for much of the game.
Alberto Gilardino hosted his former teammate Clarence Seedorf’s Milan, as the giants were looking increasingly unlikely to qualify for Europe. Mario Balotelli was benched after suffering from a cold, so ex-Sampdoria striker Giampaolo Pazzini started, while Riccardo Montolivo returned. Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari, Mattia De Sciglio and Stephan El Shaarawy were injured.
The rare Monday evening kick-off was marked by a fireworks display in the stadium just before kick-off.
Gilardino ran between the centre-backs on to a long ball over the top and forced a corner off Adil Rami, but from that set play the Giuseppe Sculli half-volley was wayward.
Milan took the lead with their first real chance. Adel Taarabt gathered in midfield, surged towards a surprised Genoa defence and cut inside to unleash an angled drive that flew past Mattia Perin into the far bottom corner. It was the QPR-owned forward’s third Serie A goal and Milan’s 16th from outside the penalty area.
Stefano Sturaro pulled a shot off target from the edge of the box and Fetfatzidis saw his strike charged down, as the game continued at a frenetic pace.
Andrea Bertolacci flashed a dangerous finish across Christian Abbiati and just past the far post, then Rami dived in to deflect Marco Motta’s attempt wide, even though the former Juventus wing-back was offside.
The Grifone were pinning Milan back towards half-time and Bertolacci had another shot deflected off target. Philippe Mexes risked a spectacular own goal when heading inches past the near post to intercept a cross.
Abbiati smothered a Giovanni Marchese snapshot from distance and the second half started in a similar vein, as the goalkeeper beat away a powerful Fetfatzidis strike.
Sturaro curled in a free kick for Sebastian De Maio’s header inches over with Abbiati rooted to the spot.
However, Genoa were punished with a classic counter-attack. Keisuke Honda ran on to a through ball in midfield and skipped past a defender to sprint forward, keeping his cool to chip the on-rushing Perin. It was the Japanese international’s debut Serie A goal.
Genoa continued to push and Motta fired straight at Abbiati from a Gilardino assist. They did get back into the game in bizarre circumstances, as a corner found Motta for a fierce half-volley that bounced off the underside of the bar and in off the back of Abbiati’s leg.
Moments later it was almost 2-2, as Abbiati flew for a magnificent save on Sturaro’s powerful strike, then the move continued and Mexes performed a goalline clearance on Motta’s free header.
Taarabt had penalty appeals for a handling offence, but the referee waved play on. Mexes bravely blocked a Gilardino drive in the box, as the siege continued at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, but Milan held on for a third consecutive victory - something they had not yet achieved this season.
See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with Eurotips.co.uk