Carlos Bacca netted against Lazio for the third game running to help Vincenzo Montella’s AC Milan to a 2-0 victory in Serie A on Tuesday.
The former Sevilla forward scored home and away against the Rome club last season and added another with a clinical first-half finish, before M’Baye Niang’s penalty clinched the three points at San Siro.
Milan ended 2015-16 with a miserable run on home soil, failing to win in their final five league matches, but Montella has turned that around in the early stages of his tenure.
This is already the second time that Bacca has fired Milan towards victory in front of their own supporters this term, having smashed a hat-trick against Torino on the opening day, as well as grabbing the only goal from the bench at Sampdoria last Friday.
Bacca had largely been kept quiet by Lazio until he pounced on a Marco Parolo error, then inspired some intense Milan pressure as they sought a second.
It was 2-0 when Niang won and dispatched a spot-kick 16 minutes from time to leave Lazio without a league win against Milan on this ground since 1989.
With the hosts making a laboured start, the visitors managed the game’s first shot as Filip Djordjevic sidefooted into the arms of Gianluigi Donnarumma from Ciro Immobile’s lay-off.
Niang looked to respond, tumbling with no reward after racing away from Bastos in the Lazio defence, but Donnarumma was soon in action again to parry Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s header away from his near post at the end of Senad Lulic’s long throw.
The lively Niang was quickly on the move once more, though, stepping inside from Juraj Kucka’s nodded pass to scuff a strike at Thomas Strakosha.
A number of hopeful efforts from distance followed at either end, before Giacomo Bonaventura’s clumsy dribble was halted with a ricochet looping just past the post.
But finally, in the 37th minute, the recalled Bacca was given a sight of goal as the Lazio backline parted, and he made no mistake. Running clear after Kucka had profited on Marco Parolo’s dallying, the Colombian coolly sent Strakosha the wrong way to tuck a finish low inside the corner of the net.
Milan sparked into life, with Bonaventura twice testing Strakosha, who first beat away a thump from Niang’s cute pass and then clung to a rasping drive at the second attempt.
Somehow, the visitors headed into half-time still in the game. Suso’s magical run on the right concluded with Bastos inadvertently thumping at Strakosha, before Dusan Basta jumped in front of Bonaventura’s follow-up.
After the restart, Immobile dragged wide from an angled run, but Niang offered up a far more glaring miss at the other end. With Bacca dissecting the Lazio defence, Davide Calabria centred and the rangy Frenchman failed to direct the ball into an open goal.
But Niang did get his goal. Strakosha and Donnarumma had gathered speculative strikes from Niang and Felipe Anderson, respectively, when the former ventured into the area and his low delivery struck the arm of Stefan Radu. A penalty was given and Niang calmly slotted it away.
Strakosha responded with a stunning stop from Kucka’s powerful free-kick, but, with the damage done, Milan cruised to three points.
Key Opta stats:
– Milan have won back-to-back games in Serie A for the first time since February.
– Bacca found the net with his first shot of the game, something he has done overall 14 times so far in Serie A between this and last season.
– The Colombian striker has scored eight goals in his last eight Serie A appearances, six over the last five at the San Siro.
– Lazio have conceded 12 goals over their last six games on the road in Serie A.