Keisuke Honda scored twice and thanked a comical own goal, as Milan ended their Bentegodi curse by beating Verona 3-1.
Both teams were locked together on 11 points going into the Stadio Bentegodi, which was a notoriously tough venue for the Rossoneri, losing here last season and a 5-3 defeat in 1973 costing them the Scudetto. Nigel de Jong was suspended and Riccardo Montolivo injured, but Diego Lopez, Giacomo Bonaventura, Marco van Ginkel and Jeremy Menez were fit for the bench. Hellas missed Lazaros Christodoulopoulos, Jacopo Sala and Mounir Obbadi.
Andrea Poli had a shot charged down and El Shaarawy’s follow-up was straight at Rafael, then Fernando Torres turned wide.
Milan took the lead thanks to a gift from the Verona defence. Rafa Marques tried to hoof an Ignazio Abate cross clear, but he shinned it into his own net at the near post. It was a comical slice from the centre-back.
Verona fought back and Emil Hallfredsson’s daisy-cutter skimmed the upright, but El Shaarawy’s smart cross-field low pass sent Keisuke Honda through and he took his curling finish well to double Milan’s lead.
Verona went so close to getting back into it with an acrobatic Luca Toni volley, but Christian Abbiati flew to palm it out of the top corner with one hand. The veteran goalkeeper was again decisive on another Juanito Gomez Taleb header and plucked a Toni curler out of the air, while Poli volleyed an Abate cross over from close range and Abbiati spilled an Artur Ionita strike.
Honda got his sixth goal of the season, running on to an Adil Rami through ball from the centre-circle and prodding a left-foot finish across Rafael.
El Shaarawy shredded his marker down the left and pulled back, but Honda and Torres couldn’t make the most of it, the Spaniard testing Rafael. Abate went for goal himself, a powerful strike off target.
Abbiati was still kept busy, palming a Panagiotis Tachtsidis effort over the bar and blocking at the feet of Nico Lopez. Toni also just failed to make contact with a Campanharo assist.
Verona did get one back late on, as Nico Lopez drilled in from the edge of the box. It was almost 3-2 moments later, as Toni knocked down a cross for Nene, whose finish looped on to the bar.
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