Luca Antonelli’s second-half strike helped AC Milan defeat Chievo 1-0 at San Siro on Wednesday on a night when rookie goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma caught the eye for Sinisa Mihajlovic’s men.
Former Genoa defender Antonelli produced an excellent low finish that keeps Milan in the top half, but the hosts were also grateful for a promising display from Donnarumma.
Mihajlovic kept faith with the 16-year-old, who was handed his debut in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Sassuolo, and the youngster rewarded the Milan coach by producing a number of fine saves.
Donnarumma excellently denied Sergio Pellissier just before the interval before keeping out Alberto Paloschi’s effort from point-blank range after the home side had edged ahead courtesy of Antonelli. Defeat for Chievo was their third in a row in Serie A.
Milan have not lost against Chievo in almost 10 years and, predictably, began on the front foot.
Despite losing Ignazio Abate through injury in the early stages, the hosts came close after 22 minutes as Alessio Cerci sent in a dangerous cross that Andrea Bertolacci headed over.
Carlos Bacca two minutes later raced down the right channel, but was squeezed out and his shot was blocked behind for a corner.
A well-timed run from Cerci helped him beat the offside trap as Mattia De Sciglio slotted him in, but the midfielder’s left-footed effort curled just the wrong side of the post.
The pair linked up well again three minutes before half-time as De Sciglio fired in an inviting cross and Cerci was unable to prevent his header from ballooning over.
Milan then had Donnarumma to thank for keeping the scores level as he made an excellent save just prior to the interval.
Pellissier rose highest to nod Valter Birsa’s free-kick goalwards, only for Donnarumma to pull off a quality stop to tip the ball over.
Donnarumma’s opposite number Albano Bizzarri pulled off a brilliant save of his own five minutes after the break as he flicked Juraj Kucka’s effort over.
However, the 37-year-old was helpless to prevent Milan scoring the opener two minutes later, Antonelli unleashing a superb low curling effort that found the bottom corner.
The left-back had received the ball from Bacca, whose excellent turn in the box provided him with enough space to pick out the pin-point finish.
Kucka could have put Milan further ahead after 66 minutes, although he snatched at the chance from the edge of the penalty area and pulled his effort wide of the upright.
Donnarumma was immediately called into action at the other end as Chievo threatened to equalise via a quick counter-attack.
Paloschi raced into the danger area, but the imposing figure of Donnarumma stood up to the attacker’s effort by blocking it behind for a corner.
Kucka wasted another glorious chance a minute before full-time as he headed a corner agonisingly wide after Bizzarri had come flying out of his goal.