Ibra brace sends Milan seven points clear
© AFP

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice to earn AC Milan a 2-1 win over Roma and send I Rossoneri seven points clear at the top of Serie A.

The title pressure is now firmly back on Juventus, who must beat Inter Milan in Turin tomorrow to keep pace with the champions. Pablo Osvaldo had given Roma a first-half lead against the run of play but Milan dominated throughout, twice hitting the woodwork, and finally their greater quality told.

Ibrahimovic now has 22 goals in 23 league games this season. It was also a welcome boost ahead of Wednesday's UEFA Champions League clash with Barcelona. The first half was a classic case of smash and grab from the visitors, who were second best throughout but nicked a goal just before the break.

Osvaldo opens the scoring
Milan suffered a blow on ten minutes when centre-back Thiago Silva asked to be taken off with a recurrence of a leg injury, putting him in doubt for the Barça clash. Despite the loss, Milan were in complete control, with Urby Emanuelson testing Maarten Stekelenburg before the goalkeeper also tipped over an Ibrahimovic free-kick.

Milan put together a slick move which resulted in the lively Stephan El Shaarawy shooting wide. Most of I Rossoneri's opportunities were just half-chances but Roma offered nothing in attack.

Milan came within a whisker of the lead they deserved when El Shaarawy worked space on the edge of the box and beat Stekelenburg with a fizzing shot that rapped the bottom of the post, with neither Antonio Nocerino nor Ibrahimovic able to turn in the loose ball.

Then, a minute from the break, captain Massimo Ambrosini fluffed a clearance which fell to Daniele De Rossi 20 yards out, with Osvaldo alert enough to turn home the midfielder's shot, which appeared to be going wide, from the edge of the six-yard box with Milan's defenders failing to react.

Roma captain Francesco Totti should have done much better when presented with a glorious chance by a poor clearance from goalkeeper Christian Abbiati just after the restart, but he strangely tried a chipped finish from outside the box that sailed over the bar, although Abbiati had it well covered anyway.

Ibra double denies Roma
And they paid straight away for the profligacy as De Rossi blocked Ambrosini's shot with his arm inside the box, allowing Ibrahimovic to stroke home a 53rd-minute penalty. From that point there only appeared one side likely to win it.

Stekelenburg fortunately kept out an Ibrahimovic near-post shot with his foot as he dived the wrong way, and he got a fingertip to a rasping Sulley Muntari volley to touch the ball onto the bar.

But it was no surprise eight minutes from time when Ibrahimovic snatched the points, latching onto Kevin-Prince Boateng's long ball forward, chipping Stekelenburg and then holding off Simon Kjaer, who had been guilty of ball-watching to allow the Swede in behind him, before nodding home the dropping ball.