A Giampaolo Pazzini brace helped Milan to a 3-0 victory over Lazio and sees them leapfrog into third place, but Antonio Candreva’s dismissal proved costly.
This was a head-to-head for third place, as only two points separated the teams going in. Mario Balotelli was in the stands after bruising his shin during a collision with Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic last week, joining Bojan Krkic, Kevin Constant, Daniele Bonera, Luca Antonini, Nigel De Jong and the suspended Philippe Mexes. Lazio missed Miroslav Klose, Stefano Mauri, Cristian Brocchi, Abdoulay Konko and Marius Stankevicius.
The Biancocelesti’s last win here was in 1989, though the last three visits to San Siro were draws. Federico Marchetti had to rush off his line to smother at Stephan El Shaarawy’s feet at the base of the near post.
Moments later El Shaarawy pounced on another error and Marchetti got a touch to take the ball off his foot, but the Giampaolo Pazzini follow-up was cleared off the line by Giuseppe Biava’s heel. Lazio also threatened when Sergio Floccari hit a weak finish straight into Christian Abbiati’s arms from a very promising position.
El Shaarawy nodded over from eight yards on Pazzini’s cross from the right, but on 16 minutes the Pharaoh cut in from the left and had his heels clipped on the very edge of the box by Antonio Candreva. The referee awarded a free kick just inches outside the area and after a long discussion with the assistants opted to flash the red card, as Candreva had ended a clear scoring opportunity.
Kevin-Prince Boateng rolled the free kick across for Riccardo Montolivo to drill wide. Mattia De Sciglio’s stunning cross whipped past everyone to the back post, as Pazzini and Boateng just failed to get a touch as they dived in.
Pazzini went down under a Stefan Radu slight touch on the shoulder, but the referee booked him for simulation, as he was leaning back looking for the contact.
Pazzini did better when he hooked a De Sciglio cross with his back to goal, spun round and fired over the bar, possibly with a touch off Biava.
Milan finally broke through before half-time. Marchetti spilled an Ignazio Abate angled drive, Bruno Pereirinha stopped El Shaarawy getting to the loose ball, but Pazzini pounced to tap into an empty net from four yards.
It was almost 2-0 with Abate rolling across for Pazzini, but Andre Dias crucially intercepted. From that corner, Marchetti got down well to palm a Pazzini header off the line at the near bottom corner, but could do nothing on Boateng’s follow-up.
Cristian Zaccardo made his Milan debut in the second half for Cristian Zapata, while Bruno Pereirinha was substituted on his birthday for Lorik Cana.
Abbiati pushed a Hernanes free kick out from under the bar and from the resulting corner Biava turned a free header wide. Boateng and Radu got into a shoving match after a foul, prompting a yellow card each.
Radu was perhaps still tense from that incident when he passed the ball straight to Pazzini in the final third and the striker hit a screamer from distance into the near bottom corner.
Floccari nodded over after getting between centre-backs, but Pazzini wasted the chance for a hat-trick when shinning his volley from a very promising position. Boateng also slipped in a similar incident on substitute M’Baye Niang’s cross.
El Shaarawy then failed to get a fourth when clear on goal by side-footing across the face of goal. Niang went so close to his debut Serie A goal from an El Shaarawy assist, but his right-foot effort clipped the crossbar, but 3-0 was enough for Milan's seventh consecutive home victory.
Sent off: Candreva 16 (L)