Gianluca Lapadula bagged his first Serie A brace with Suso also on target as Milan recovered from a shaky start to crush Empoli 4-1.
Vincenzo Montella rested several stars and had Alessio Romagnoli back from injury. Manuel Pucciarelli, Vincent Laurini and Levan Mchedlidze were sidelined. Milan had one defeat in the last 10 games, whereas the Tuscans had won just one in the same period.
This was Empoli’s 400th Serie A match and they wore shirts with pink names and numbers as part of a charity initiative combating violence against women.
It was almost a disastrous start for Milan, because in the opening minutes Gigio Donnarumma’s poor pass was intercepted by Krunic and Massimo Maccarone somehow blasted wide of the open goal.
Riccardo Saponara also swept past a challenge to test Donnarumma and Maccarone failed to nod in another counter.
Mati Fernandez had his first start in a Rossoneri jersey and immediately picked up an injury, limping off for Juraj Kucka within 10 minutes.
It proved an important switch, because Kucka won back possession to spread the play for Suso, who crossed low to the penalty spot for Gianluca Lapadula’s first time shot into the near bottom corner.
The Milan lead didn’t last long at all, because Guido Marilungo shrugged off Mattia De Sciglio and Donnarumma flapped away the cross from Maccarone, but Saponara was unmarked to blast home from outside the box. It was Empoli’s first goal at the Castellani for 501 minutes of football.
Maccarone missed another sitter, attempting to chip Donnarumma after Krunic’s rapid counter, while Ignazio Abate’s attempt was deflected wide and a Suso snapshot stung Lukasz Skorupski’s gloves from the D.
Manuel Locatelli came in with a decisive sliding tackle to block Maccarone, then Saponara ballooned a volley over from Marilungo’s smart cross.
Skorupski flew to beat away a Jack Bonaventura free kick. The second half took a while to get going, but Milan restored their advantage with a well-constructed goal.
Lapadula spread the play down the right for Ignazio Abate, who pulled back for a Suso curler to the far post from 12 yards.
Moments later it was 3-1, as Bonaventura went on a slalom down the left and he tried to assist Lapadula from the by-line, but Andrea Costa accidentally prodded the ball into his own net from close range.
Maccarone wasted a promising opportunity by rolling across for Daniele Croce rather than going for goal. Milan also had a goal disallowed when Suso had strayed offside, his shot turned in on the rebound by Mario Pasalic.
Moments later, Lapadula did spring the offside trap and his angled drive took a slight deflection off Croce to creep into the far bottom corner.
Empoli had a chance in stoppages to make the scoreline less harsh, but Maccarone’s header thumped the crossbar.
Bonaventura picked up a muscular problem and Montella ordered the midfielder to leave the pitch before doing any further damage, even though it left Milan down to 10 men for the final few minutes.
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