Sulley Ali Muntari’s strike earned Milan a crucial victory away to Chievo, but they had to fight hard to scrape the points.
The Rossoneri had just one point from two rounds, which allowed Juventus to leapfrog them at the top of the table. They faced this trip to the Bentegodi with an entire team missing, as Massimo Ambrosini, Alberto Aquilani and Daniele Bonera were suspended. Urby Emanuelson and Philippe Mexes were late additions to the injury list, only fit for the bench, as Mark van Bommel, Ignazio Abate, Luca Antonini, Thiago Silva, Pippo Inzaghi, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Flavio Roma, Alexandre Pato and Djamel Mesbah were ruled out.
It means 19-year-old Mattia De Sciglio received his Serie A debut and Mario Yepes faced his former club, while Gennaro Gattuso got a start to confirm his eye problems were behind him. Chievo were missing Boukary Dramè, Davide Moscardelli and Nikola Gulan.
Milan were under pressure early on, but took the lead when Sulley Ali Muntari smashed a left-foot strike from 30 yards that flew past Stefano Sorrentino into the near bottom corner.
Sergio Pellissier blasted over after De Sciglio lost the ball, as Chievo continued to control the possession and launch waves of attacks, albeit fairly ineffective ones. The Rossoneri seemed to be sorely lacking in confidence after recent poor results.
Alberto Paloschi had the ball in the back of the net on 23 minutes, but was marginally offside, so it did not count. Moments later Cyril Thereau did spring the offside trap, but his shot from nine yards was fingertipped on to the side-netting.
Sorrentino sprinted off his line to close down Antonio Nocerino after a fine long pass from De Sciglio, as the midfielder’s first touch was heavy.
Pellissier nodded a Nicolas Frey cross past the back post and there had to be a pause in proceedings as both Christian Abbiati and Gattuso underwent treatment.
Despite all the pressure, Milan went extremely close to going 2-0 up when Robinho’s step-over allowed him to shimmy past a defender and force Sorrentino to turn his angled drive out for a corner.
There was also a promising counter-attack from Chievo’s corner sparked by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Clarence Seedorf, but a misplaced pass saw the move break down.
Paloschi set up Pellissier for an angled drive from outside the box that Abbiati did well to smother.
In first half stoppages Luca Rigoni blazed just wide of the near stick with only the goalkeeper to beat after Yepes was beaten down the right. Marco Amelia warmed up at half-time, but Abbiati was able to continue despite a toe problem.
Abbiati had to be ready when beating away a fierce Pellissier volley after Muntari’s error. From the corner, Pellissier’s strike was deflected over from a tight angle for another set play.
An Ibra free kick struck the wall, but Milan were uninspired, so Stephan El Shaarawy replaced Gattuso, moving Seedorf into a deeper role.
A dangerous Luciano cross whipped all the way through the box with no Chievo teammates ready to tap in. Ibrahimovic had a promising opportunity and curled the finish just wide of the far post.
A well-worked Chievo free kick was scrambled clear, then from the throw-in Thereau’s backheel flick volley was charged down by Nesta’s arm, but the officials got it right by flagging him offside.
Luciano scuffed his shot from the edge of the box and De Sciglio fired wide after a strong run. All the Milan substitutions were completed when Yepes appeared to break his nose in an accidental clash of heads with Thereau in stoppages.
With a decimated side the final kick of the game saw Chievo put the ball in the net, but again Francesco Acerbi was clearly offside.
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