Ibra treble tears Palermo apart
Zlatan Ibrahimovic made an emphatic return to AC Milan as the Rossoneri moved four points clear at the top of Serie A with a resounding 4-0 win over Palermo.
The Swedish international scored a hat-trick within 14 minutes on his return after a three-game suspension as AC Milan cruised to victory in Sicily. Thiago Silva added a fourth goal and Milan put the ball back in second-placed Juventus' court in the race for the Scudetto.
For Palermo, coach Bortolo Mutti is now set for an uncomfortable debrief with the club's president Maurizio Zamparini. Zamparini yesterday said that his side had a 95 per cent chance of losing to Milan, and he was not wrong.
As he superstitiously spent the 90 minutes travelling around the city in a taxi, his side was being taken apart by Milan, and he will expect an in-depth report from Mutti.
Ibrahimovic put Milan in front in the 21st minute when he prodded the ball into the top left-hand corner of the goal with just one touch after being set up by Robinho. Palermo had the chance to level after half an hour, but the ball simply would not go in as it cannoned around the penalty area like a pinball.
The ball broke free for Milan and they doubled their lead with Ibrahimovic seeming to slow things down on the edge of the penalty area. However, he was just looking for a gap, which he found after shifting the ball on to his left foot, and he threaded his shot through it and past Emiliano Viviano.
Less than four minutes later, Ibrahimovic completed his hat-trick in style. The Palermo defence had not learnt their lesson as they once again gave him far too much time to pick his spot, this time with a curling effort from 25 yards out.
Viviano denied him a fourth five minutes later with an instinctive save with his foot. Thiago Silva headed home Milan's fourth in the 58th minute when he was found in the area by Stephan El Shaarawy after taking a short corner.
Edgar Barreto hit the post on the hour mark as Palermo looked for a consolation that they were unable to find, leaving Mutti's future hanging in the balance while Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri was all smiles at the final whistle.