Riccardo Montolivo followed up a Mario Balotelli free kick to give Milan their sixth consecutive victory away to Chievo.
The Rossoneri continued to charge up the table in their bid for second place and had a strong record at the Bentegodi, winning seven here, drawing one and losing two. Kevin Constant returned from suspension to face his former club, but Kevin-Prince Boateng, Giampaolo Pazzini and Nigel De Jong were sidelined, so Robinho joined the trident in his first start of 2013. Chievo could count on Francesco Acerbi, who spent the first six months of the season at Milan.
The Rossoneri wore black armbands for Claudio Lippi, the Milan Channel journalist who died in a road accident this week.
Christian Abbiati just about managed to smother at Alberto Paloschi’s feet after a deflected Cyril Thereau cross into the six-yard box. A crucial Massimo Ambrosini sliding tackle took the ball off Thereau’s foot as he was pulling the trigger, then Abbiati smothered a scuffed Thereau attempt.
Bostjan Cesar barged into Balotelli in an off the ball incident and the referee awarded a free kick for this block. SuperMario got back up to take that fierce free kick, which Christian Puggioni parried and Riccardo Montolivo was quickest to react for the follow-up. Curiously, Montolivo had also scored against Chievo at San Siro earlier this season.
Boukary Drame was booked for a very late and clumsy tackle on Ignazio Abate, then Puggioni spilled another Balotelli free kick, but was able to get it under control at the second touch.
Yet again Balotelli aimed from long-range on a dead ball situation and Puggioni beat it away with some difficulty. The Chievo goalkeeper punched another set piece clear from the former Manchester City striker, as there seemed to be no distance Mario wouldn’t go straight for goal from.
There was a nasty collision in first half stoppages when Daniele Bonera and Paloschi were both looking at the ball, the Chievo striker accidentally getting a boot in the face, but he escaped injury. From that free kick, Thereau’s attempt was charged down and Montolivo was decisive to block the Roberto Guana follow-up.
Chievo threw on forward Adrian Stoian for the second half, but Balotelli’s free kick from almost 40 metres dipped viciously and Puggioni punched it out for a corner.
Marco Andreolli was at full stretch to get on the end of a chipped Nicolas Frey free kick, but could only steer it into Abbiati’s arms.
Yet another Balotelli free kick was punched away, then the goalkeeper stood his ground to parry when Robinho went on the counter-attack.
On 69 minutes Abbiati needed a sensational save, as he flew to fingertip a Luciano snapshot out from under the crossbar.
Stephan El Shaarawy ran to the by-line with a splendid move and pulled back into the six-yard box, but nobody was ready to tap in. The play continued and Puggioni came tearing off his line to close down Ambrosini.
Balotelli was running clear when Dario Dainelli mistimed his tackle from behind for an inevitable second yellow card. Puggioni beat away another Balotelli free kick at the base of the near post, then Andreolli almost deflected a corner into his own net, as it skimmed the upright.
Chievo were practically playing with nine men for the last 10 minutes, as Drame put his shoulder out of joint and managed to play on through the pain. Nonetheless, Stoian almost got an equaliser when going to volley a Thereau cross to the back post, as M’Baye Niang did just enough to put him off.
Sent off: Dainelli 77 (C)