Gonzalo Higuain scored twice as AC Milan cruised to a 3-1 Serie A victory over bottom club Chievo on Sunday.
The former Napoli forward netted his brace as part of a comfortable first-half showing, setting Gennaro Gattuso’s side on the path to just their third league win of the season.
Giacomo Bonaventura added a third for Milan after the break, before Sergio Pellissier pulled one back for the visitors in the 63rd minute.
Pellisier’s consolation extended a run of Milan having scored and conceded in each of their last 11 Serie A matches, which have now featured 41 goals in total.
Milan enjoyed the better of the early play but almost fell behind in embarrassing circumstances, as captain Ignazio Abate misjudged a header back to Gianluigi Donnarumma, forcing the goalkeeper into a diving save low to his right.
Chievo lived dangerously in the 19th minute when Stefano Sorrentino pushed a Bonaventura strike into the path of Hakan Calhanoglu, whose own effort was intercepted by a crucial block from Fabio Depaoli.
Bonaventura then lifted over from close range after being played in by Suso, but Higuain made no mistake a minute later.
Suso was again the architect, squaring a pass for the Argentina striker to turn in between the legs of Sorrentino, and the same pair combined for Milan’s second – a through ball splitting the visitors’ disjointed back line and Higuain slotting home the finish.
Two more assists for this man! @suso30oficial aggiunge altri due assist al suo bottino! #MilanChievo #ANewMilan pic.twitter.com/hqF0KqgBS0
— AC Milan (@acmilan) October 7, 2018
Abate tested Sorrentino early in the second half, before a deflected Bonaventura strike from the edge of the box after 56 minutes put the result beyond doubt.
A momentary lapse cost the hosts their clean sheet as a Cristian Zapata pass out from the back was pounced on by Pellisier, who fired in a low drive from just outside the area, but it was all Chievo muster in their comeback bid.
What it means: Milan in touch
Milan are now only three points adrift of second-placed Napoli and have a game in hand over Lazio, Sampdoria and Roma.
Chievo, meanwhile, remain rooted to the foot of the table without a victory from their opening eight matches.
Higuain fit and firing
Higuain returned from injury to score in a 3-1 Europa League victory over Olympiacos in midweek and appears to be hitting his stride with two composed finishes against Chievo.
An honourable mention must also go to Suso who, after setting up Higuain’s two goals, also provided the assist for Bonaventura, although he had to be replaced in the 90th minute after appearing to pick up an ankle problem. Milan will hope he recovers quickly.
Chievo’s crumbling defence costly
It was not difficult to see why Chievo have not yet amassed enough points to wipe out their three-point deduction for false accounting yet.
Milan persistently found holes in the visiting defence, most notably for Higuain’s second, while their goal came from their only shot on target.
Key Opta stats
– All three of Higuain’s goals for AC Milan at San Siro have been assisted by Suso.
– Higuain has scored eight goals in his last seven league games against Chievo in Serie A.
– Suso and Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho have provided the most assists in the top five European leagues.
– Only Borussia Dortmund (six) have scored more goals from outside the box than AC Milan (five) in the top five European leagues.
– AC Milan are unbeaten in six league games in a row for the first time since March 2018.
A Milan derby with Inter awaits Gattuso’s men after the international break, while Chievo host Atalanta.