Serie A - Honda strikes in Milan away win

Keisuke Honda’s debut Serie A goal gave Milan a 2-1 win in Genoa, though they were under siege for much of the game.

Serie A - Honda strikes in Milan away win

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AC Milan's Keisuke Honda celebrates after scoring a second goal past Genoa's goalkeeper Mattia Perin (Reuters)

Alberto Gilardino hosted his former team-mate Clarence Seedorf’s Milan, as the giants were looking increasingly unlikely to qualify for Europe.

Mario Balotelli was benched after suffering from a cold, so ex-Sampdoria striker Giampaolo Pazzini started, while Riccardo Montolivo returned. Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari, Mattia De Sciglio and Stephan El Shaarawy were injured.

The rare Monday evening fixture was marked by a fireworks display in the stadium just before kick-off.

Gilardino ran between the centre-backs on to a long ball over the top and forced a corner off Adil Rami, but from that set play the Giuseppe Sculli half-volley was wayward.

Milan took the lead with their first real chance. Adel Taarabt gathered in midfield, surged towards a surprised Genoa defence and cut inside to unleash an angled drive that flew past Mattia Perin into the far bottom corner. It was the QPR-owned forward’s third Serie A goal and Milan’s 16th from outside the penalty area.

Stefano Sturaro pulled a shot off target from the edge of the box and Fetfatzidis saw his strike charged down, as the game continued at a frenetic pace.

Andrea Bertolacci flashed a dangerous finish across Christian Abbiati and just past the far post, then Rami dived in to deflect Marco Motta’s attempt wide, even though the former Juventus wing-back was offside.

The Grifone were pinning Milan back towards half-time and Bertolacci had another shot deflected off target. Philippe Mexes risked a spectacular own goal when heading inches past the near post to intercept a cross.

Abbiati smothered a Giovanni Marchese snapshot from distance and the second half started in a similar vein, as the goalkeeper beat away a powerful Fetfatzidis strike.

Sturaro curled in a free kick for Sebastian De Maio’s header inches over with Abbiati rooted to the spot.

However, Genoa were punished with a classic counter-attack. Keisuke Honda ran on to a through ball in midfield and skipped past a defender to sprint forward, keeping his cool to chip the on-rushing Perin. It was the Japanese international’s debut Serie A goal.

Genoa continued to push and Motta fired straight at Abbiati from a Gilardino assist. They did get back into the game in bizarre circumstances, as a corner found Motta for a fierce half-volley that bounced off the underside of the bar and in off the back of Abbiati’s leg.

Moments later it was almost 2-2, as Abbiati flew for a magnificent save on Sturaro’s powerful strike, then the move continued and Mexes performed a goalline clearance on Motta’s free header.

Taarabt had penalty appeals for a handling offence, but the referee waved play on. Mexes bravely blocked a Gilardino drive in the box, as the siege continued at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris, but Milan held on for a third consecutive victory - something they had not yet achieved this season.

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