AC Milan scored three first-half goals on their way to a 4-0 home victory over 10-man Palermo that moves them above Inter in the table just one week before the derby.
The Rossoneri sent a message to the sides above them in Serie A with a fluent attacking display and some clinical finishing, albeit against a Palermo side teetering on the brink of relegation.
Suso was at the heart of much of Milan’s best work and he opened the scoring before turning provider for Mario Pasalic to add a second, and Carlos Bacca headed home to make it 3-0.
The pick of the goals came from Gerard Deulofeu and if both he and Suso can maintain fitness and this kind of form, Milan will have every chance of furthering their European qualification hopes by beating Inter on Saturday.
Second-bottom Palermo have now lost six of their last seven and while they have seven more games to try and avoid the drop, they will need to tighten up a defence that looked porous from the start at San Siro.
— AC Milan (@acmilan) April 9, 2017
Keen to make amends following their disappointing 1-1 draw at Pescara, Milan wasted little time and Deulofeu’s searing pace took him through on goal after five minutes but he was brought down by Edoardo Goldaniga.
Suso, back in the Milan side after missing their previous two games with a thigh injury, took the ensuing free-kick and ignored his team-mates awaiting a cross, instead curling the ball into the net at the near post with remarkable precision.
When the Spaniard found himself with time and space in the same position at the edge of the box 13 minutes later he opted to cross, deftly floating the ball to the far post where Pasalic bundled it into the net from close range.
Ivaylo Chochev had a header saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma in a rare Palermo attack, but Milan were in no mood to sit back, and Bacca stooped to head home his 13th league goal of the campaign from Davide Calabria’s cross after 37 minutes.
Bacca should have scored his second when Juraj Kucka’s exquisite pass down the right flank put him clean through after 54 minutes, but the Colombian fired wide with only Andrea Fulignati to beat.
Palermo pushed forward, playing with an urgency befitting of their desperate plight and substitute Roland Sallai flashed a shot wide after 66 minutes. But their attempts to salvage a goal left them exposed and vulnerable to conceding a fourth, which duly arrived after 70 minutes.
Deulofeu, whose incisive runs had made him a handful for Palermo all afternoon, embarked on a mazy dribble down the left flank and he still had Sinisa Andjelkovic and Chochev to beat when he bent a shot that beat them both as well as Fulignati.
Giancarlo Gonzalez was sent off for a second bookable offence after 83 minutes and a suspended defender is the last thing coach Diego Lopez needs as he attempts to keep Palermo up in the final weeks of the season.
Key Opta stats:
– Prior to Sunday, AC Milan had not scored 3+ goals at HT in a Serie A game since September 2015 (vs Udinese).
– Suso scored the fastest Milan goal in Serie A this season.
– Milan have gained 20 points in the last nine Serie A matches (W6, D2, L1), in the previous nine league games the red and blacks collected 11 points (W3, D2, L4).
– It is the second time in this league season that Milan have won four home games in a row (the previous happened between September and October).