Pato brace puts Milan top
AC Milan moved to the top of Serie A thanks to a 3-1 win over Chievo this evening, but they were made to work hard for all three points.
Alexandre Pato scored twice against the run of play in the first half to set I Rossoneri on their way to the top. An own goal from Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the 71st minute gave Chievo hope but Robinho ended their dreams in stoppage time with his first goal for Milan, sending them above Lazio into first place.
Chievo made it clear they were not just making up the numbers as they made a bold start to the game with Kevin Constant, a surprise inclusion in their midfield, particularly lively. They did most of the attacking from start to finish, but fell behind to Milan's first counter attack in the 16th minute.
Clarence Seedorf started the attack from deep in his own half and he sent Luca Antonini forward down the left. The Milan full-back passed the ball wide to Ibrahimovic, who picked out Pato at the far post and the Brazilian volleyed the ball back across Stefano Sorrentino into the opposite corner of his goal.
Pablo Granoche should have done better with a header from eight yards after being found by Constant's cross in the 24th minute before an excellent team move in the 28th minute culminated in Constant shooting straight at Abbiati, who made an instinctive save to deny him. The ball fell back to Constant, who was denied again by the Milan goalkeeper.
Chievo were continuing to pose the greater threat, but a quick free-kick from Ibrahimovic sent Pato through to double Milan's lead against the run of play on the half-hour mark. Sorrentino then denied Pato a hat-trick with a good save on the stroke of half-time.
Chievo continued to believe in their chances of getting back into the game and substitute Cyril Thereau tested Abbiati with a curling 30-yard shot which was tipped over the crossbar. They finally got the goal they deserved in the 71st minute when Sergio Pellissier flicked a corner on with his head and the ball took a deflection off Ibrahimovic's shoulder to divert into the top corner of the goal.
Gelson Fernandes nearly levelled three minutes later with a shot wide of the post from the edge of the penalty area, but the Flying Donkeys ran out of steam. Robinho pounced with the Chievo defence stretched to round Sorrentino and stroke the ball in for his first goal for the club in stoppage time to seal the 3-1 victory.