Luca Antonelli’s instinctive finish on the stroke of half-time earned AC Milan a 1-0 win over mid-table Torino at San Siro on Saturday.
Sinisa Mihajlovic has seen his side climb back into European contention with a lengthy unbeaten run that continued with a 1-1 draw with title contenders Napoli on Monday, and they made it nine Serie A games without defeat against Torino.
After seeing Keisuke Honda strike the crossbar, Milan got what proved to be the winner in the final stages of the first half as Antonelli reacted quickest to a knocked down corner to score his first league goal since October.
That strike proved the difference against an out-of-form Torino side, although Carlos Bacca had a goal disallowed for offside while Ciro Immobile brought an impressive stop out of Gianluigi Donnarumma.
But Giampiero Ventura’s men – who faded after a bright start – have still not won against Milan in Serie A since 2001 as the hosts applied pressure on rivals Inter, who occupy the final European place ahead of their trip to leaders Juventus on Sunday.
Milan, who replaced suspended captain Riccardo Montolivo with Andrea Bertolacci, saw Cristian Zapata deny Andrea Belotti with a strong block amid a frenetic start.
Donnarumma thwarted Bruno Peres’ surge into the box before clawing away Immobile’s follow-up shot as the visitors continued to fashion chances.
The 17-year-old goalkeeper was called on again to save Kamil Glik’s header with Milan’s first chance coming 26 minutes in when Honda rattled the crossbar from a free-kick.
After Immobile found Milan’s side-netting, the hosts continued to grow into the game and led a minute before the break.
Juraj Kucka got his head on a corner, with Antonelli quickest to react and divert the loose ball past Daniele Padelli.
Peres’ dipping strike caused Donnarumma problems as Torino started the second half strongly but, when the Brazilian gave away possession in midfield, Giacomo Bonaventura almost capitalised as he curled a shot wide of the far post.
Bacca thought he had put the contest beyond Torino when he nodded in Antonelli’s header, only for the offside flag to cut home celebrations short.
Torino then went in search of a late equaliser, Peres blasting high and wide before Immobile’s long-range effort was once again denied by the impressive Donnarumma.
But Milan saw out a deserved win in relative comfort as Antonelli’s strike moved his side within a point of fifth-placed Inter.
Key Opta stats:
– Milan have scored in each of their last nine league games – the longest current run in the Serie A.
– Luca Antonelli has netted his second league goal this season. Both of them gave Milan a 1-0 win (the first came against Chievo).
– Torino have won only one out of their last eight Serie A matches (D4 L3).