AC Milan overcame a glut of suspensions
and injuries to win 1-0 at Chievo on Tuesday to pull themselves
out of the doldrums after a miserable eight days and put the
pressure back on Juventus in the Serie A title race.
Ghana forward Sulley Muntari rifled in a 30-metre shot early
in the game as Milan bounced back from their shock 2-1 home
defeat by Fiorentina on Saturday and their Champions League exit
at the hands of Barcelona a week ago.
Tough-tackling midfielder Gennaro Gattuso started his first
match since September, when he suffered a serious eye condition
which led to speculation that he may have to end his career.
Milan showed their gritty side as they ground out a win on a
wet night in Verona, their attitude symbolised by defender Mario
Yepes who insisted on continuing with an injury which left his
nose splattered in blood in stoppage time.
The Fiorentina defeat had cost Milan the Serie A lead but
Tuesday's win took the Serie A champions back to the top, at
least until Juventus host Lazio on Wednesday.
Milan have 67 points from 32 games while Juve have 65 from
"The criticism was excessive after our defeat," coach
Massimiliano Allegri said in the post-match television
"Even though we were still alive and kicking in the title
race, they were already preparing our funeral.
"We knew that if we did not win here we could have been
definitively out of the race for the scudetto. We haven't played
well but this showed that this squad is not just about
Milan had Massimo Ambrosini, Alberto Aquilani and Daniele
Bonera suspended while Urby Emanuelson and Philippe Mexes were
only considered fit for the bench.
Mark van Bommel, Ignazio Abate, Luca Antonini, Thiago Silva,
Kevin-Prince Boateng, Alexandre Pato and Djamel Mesbah were
ruled out altogether.
Fortunately, they got the perfect start when Muntari scored
with a characteristic long-range drive.
Both teams had chances before half-time, Robinho coming the
closest for Milan when his shot was turned away for a corner by
Stefano Sorrentino. Alberto Paloschi had the ball in the net for
Chievo but it was disallowed for offside.
Milan had the game more under control in the second half as
leading scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic finally began to see some of
the ball, however it was anything but a vintage performance.
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