AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri insisted his team's six-point lead over arch rivals Inter Milan won't be enough to win the title.
Former Nerazzurri striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic came back to haunt his old team as he scored the only goal of the game to give the Rossoneri derby bragging rights despite the dismissal of Ignazio Abate. Milan are now a point clear of Lazio at the top of Serie A with Inter down in fifth, six points off the summit.
But Allegri said he won't be settling for that gap. "Having six points is quite a lot and we'll continue to work calmly but this six points isn't enough," he said. "The team did very well, they didn't give anything away, not even when we were down to ten men. We played well, we were aggressive and we created many chances, I'm happy with what they did."
Allegri paid tribute to match-winner Ibrahimovic. "He scored, he had a great game, he helped his team-mates, he was available like in the other games. When you play like this you can get good results. We showed sacrifice in defence and the desire to attack when we had the ball."
He also claimed that Abate's dismissal had in a way worked in his team's favour. "It's a difficult situation, in this moment he had that reaction (to get sent off). Fortunately things went well for us but we struggled, although his going off actually helped our concentration."
Milan lined up with just two strikers instead of the three they were playing with earlier in the season, but Allegri said he hasn't abandoned his old system. "We're playing with this formation right now but we also won a lot of points with our other system with more attacking players," he added. "We had an important sacrificial spirit and with this spirit we can play with more attacking players because this way it's normal that it's easier to defend."
Ibrahimovic scored the only goal on five minutes after he was brought down by Marco Materazzi in the box, sweeping home the penalty in front of Inter's hardcore fans. "The penalty wasn't easy in front of the Inter fans but I was concentrated," he said. "When it went in it gave us confidence and we were calmer after that. We didn't win because of this, but it helped."
Ibrahimovic said he felt Milan are now favourites for the title. "I think we're the favourites but there's also Inter, Juventus and Roma who are doing well. But with a bit of patience we'll be at the top of our game," he said.
Inter coach Rafael Benitez admitted his team are struggling in comparison to last season, particularly in front of goal. They have only 13 goals in 12 league games and he pointed to that weakness as the reason they have dropped points against lower teams, such as their recent draws with Lecce and Brescia.
"We played with intensity. Last year we achieved a lot, this year is more difficult," he said. "There were two games we could have won and then when you get to a game at this level against a team of the same standard and you need more confidence. If you concede a goal after five minutes it becomes difficult.
"It's one game, an important game but I won't talk about the title because the season is long. We know we have to win more if want to be close but I think we can do that. We could have had four more points from these matches against Lecce and Brescia but we didn't score so we have to do better to win."
Lazio remained in the hunt as they ended their two-game losing streak with a 2-0 win over Napoli, who stay third. Juventus leap-frogged Inter on goal difference as they drew 1-1 with Roma on Saturday.