Serie A - Milan beat Cesena to regain top spot

Sun, 19 Feb 16:18:00 2012

An easy 3-1 win over Cesena put Milan on top of Serie A as goals from Sulley Muntari, Urby Emanuelson and Robinho secured three points for Massimilano Allegri's side at the Stadio Dino Manuzzi.

2011-12 Champions League Milan Zlatan Ibrahimovic - 0

Milan needed a win to regain their position as league leaders after rivals Juventus leapfrogged them earlier in the weekend with a 3-1 win over Catania, and it was a challenge the Rossoneri duly met.

Allegri made six changes to the side that swept past Arsenal in the Champions League mid-week with Alex Pato and Kevin-Prince Boateng rested and Zlatan Ibrahimovic suspended. Maxi Lopez, Urby Emanuelson and Sulley Muntari came in to the starting XI.

In a tight opening period, Milan controlled possession but couldn't find a way through a deep-lying Cesena back-line as the home side looked uninterested in attacking.

Milan finally took the lead in the 29th minute after Marco Parolo fouled Robinho. Thiago Silva lined up the free-kick 25 yards out and smashed the ball through the wall and straight at goalkeeper Francesco Antonioli who spilled it into the path of the on-rushing Muntari. It was a simple finish for the on-loan midfielder who tapped in from close range.

Allegri's side had the three points secured just two minutes later as Robinho picked up the ball on the half-way line and threaded a perfectly weighted pass to the impressive Emanuelson. The Dutch international took the ball in his stride before hitting a shot from distance that beat Antonioli with ease.

Cesena rarely looked like causing Milan any real problems with former Juve pair Adrian Mutu and Vincenzo Iaquinta lacking support from midfield and being bossed by Thiago Silva and Daniele Bonera.

Milan did not have to wait long for the third. Ten minutes into the second half, former Manchester City forward Robinho ran inside from the left wing and was found by Ignazio Abate before running into the box and unleashing a sweet right-foot shot across the face of goal and beyond Antonioli.

Cesena thought they had pulled one back only seconds later as Mutu scored with a tidy finish only to be flagged for offside. The Cavallucci Marini did finally score in the 65th minute as Daniele Bonera could only clear Mario Santana's cross as far as Daniel Pudil on the edge of the area who guided a perfect half-volley past Christian Abbiati.

Cesena had numerous chances to get themselves back into the game, but they ultimately paid for the profligacy of Mutu and Iaquinta who wasted several good chances.

Fabio Borini gave Roma a 1-0 win over Parma in another of the Sunday afternoon matches while Chievo beat Genoa by the same score. Novara and Atalanta played out a goalless stalemate.

Milan have 50 points from 24 games, one ahead of unbeaten Juventus who briefly held the lead after their 3-1 win over Catania on Saturday. Juventus have a game in hand.

Roma's win took them up to fifth with 38 points, above Napoli and Claudio Ranieri's Inter Milan who were thumped 3-0 at home by Bologna on Friday.

Milan face Juventus next weekend in a top-of-the-table clash. It's a must-win game for the Allegri's side as the Bianconeri lie just one point behind them with a game in hand. Cesena, meanwhile, are now bottom of Serie A, one point adrift of Novara with a game in hand.

Mike Grady - @mikegrady87 / Eurosport

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