Juraj Kucka and M’Baye Niang screamers allowed Milan to conquer Chievo 3-1 at the Bentegodi and fly into joint second place.
Incredibly, the winner of this fixture would go second in the table with Roma, so there was unexpected pressure on the two sides. Riccardo Montolivo, Andrea Bertolacci, Luca Antonelli, Mati Fernandez and Cristian Zapata missed out, so Vincenzo Montella opted to start 18-year-old playmaker Manuel Locatelli and striker Gianluca Lapadula. The hosts were unbeaten in 11 home games and had to do without Perparim Hetemaj and Bostjan Cesar.
Suso thought he had scored after 13 minutes, but a cross from the right went over Lapadula and was hooked off the line by Fabrizio Cacciatore.
Valter Birsa drilled just wide and Chievo had the better of the first half overall, Gabriel Paletta diving in to intercept before Antonio Floro Flores could meet a well-worked Lucas Castro assist.
Another Suso cross-shot flew wide and Mariano Izco pulled back for Birsa to test Gigio Donnarumma, but M’Baye Niang’s overhead kick didn’t quite come off.
Milan took the lead just before half-time with a moment of magic from Juraj Kucka, as Cacciatore’s poor cross-field pass was intercepted and the Slovenian unleashed a ground to air missile into the top corner from a good 25 metres out. It was simply unstoppable for Stefano Sorrentino.
Moments later Kucka tried again, this time with a daisy-cutter that flashed just past the base of the far post.
Within a minute of the restart, it was 2-0 to the Rossoneri, as Jack Bonaventura won back possession in midfield to send Niang forward, he rode a tackle while moving it on to his left foot and unleashed another scorcher to beat Sorrentino from the edge of the box. He celebrated by waving the shirt of injured captain Montolivo, who is out for six months with a ruptured ACL.
This was the first time since 2012 that Milan had managed to put more than one goal past Chievo at the Bentegodi.
Sorrentino managed a tough reaction save on Lapadula’s flicked header and as the move continued Niang nodded over the bar.
Suso’s deflected effort swerved to skim the bar, then Lapadula got between two players, got back on his feet and stung Sorrentino’s gloves at the near post.
Sorrentino got down very quickly to palm a Niang free kick round the base of the upright. After a while Milan seemed to settle on their 2-0 lead, but Birsa got Chievo back into it with a trademark free kick into the near top corner.
The Rossoneri held out in the closing stages and scored a bizarre third in stoppages. Carlos Bacca's shot was heading to the corner flag before it smacked Dario Dainelli in the face to ricochet into the net past a helpless Sorrentino. Milan will go into next week’s clash with leaders Juventus just five points adrift.
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