Goals from Rafael Leão and Junior Messias earned AC Milan a vital 2-0 home win over Genoa to reclaim top spot in Serie A after rivals Internazionale had won 3-1 at Spezia.
Stefano Pioli’s side were under pressure after two consecutive goalless draws had allowed their local rivals to leapfrog them at the top with Friday’s win. Milan did not take long to get on the score sheet in the San Siro, with Pierre Kalulu picking out the perfect cross for Leão to volley home in the 11th minute.
Any hopes of a comfortable evening for home fans, after costly stalemates against Bologna and Torino, soon faded as Milan struggled to build on their early lead. Genoa, second from bottom in the table, began to cause problems at the other end as they searched for an equaliser to boost their hopes of escaping the relegation zone.
The tension was finally eased three minutes from time when the Brazilian forward Messias hammered home the second goal. The result extends Milan’s run of clean sheets in all competitions to seven matches – a run that began with a goalless draw in the Coppa Italia semi-final, first leg against Inter, who they face in the second leg on Tuesday.
Earlier, the defending champions Inter had briefly taken top spot with victory at Spezia. After a cagey start, the Croatian midfielder Marcelo Brozovic found the top corner in the 31st minute to break the deadlock. The visitors could not add a second goal until Lautaro Martínez scored from Ivan Perisic’s cross in the 73rd minute.
The hosts rarely threatened until a fine late effort from their captain, Giulio Maggiore, set up an unexpectedly tense finale for Simone Inzaghi’s side, but the substitute Alexis Sánchez struck in stoppage time to put the game to bed.
“I think it was a victory of maturity,” Inzaghi told Sky Sport Italia. “We knew it would not be easy. I did not like the first 10 minutes, we gave them too many opportunities with the ball. But it was an important victory for us. We are creating a lot of chances, helping us to win the last three games, which is huge for our confidence.”
Inter are two points behind Milan but have a game in hand on their rivals, who are chasing a first scudetto since 2010-11. Napoli, now five points behind the leaders in third with a game in hand, host José Mourinho’s Roma on Monday.