The Rossoneri consolidated their position in second with an important victory over the struggling Bergamaschi…
Leonardo’s Milan were desperate to keep the pressure on leaders Inter as they hosted a struggling Atalanta side to the San Siro.
The Rossoneri took command in the opening period whenAlexandre Pato scored a brace to punish the visitors for some shortcomings at the back.
After the break the Orobici reduced the deficit when Valdez fired a rocket past Cristian Abbiati. Milan regained command on the hour mark however when Marco Borriellolatched onto Ronaldinho’s saved penalty. Despite some late pressure there was no way back for Atalanta and Milan were left to celebrate an important victory on their quest for scudetto glory.
The game started brightly with the visitors immediately going close when Valdez snapped a shot wide of the mark from 18 yards.
Seconds later Milan were given a boost at the news that Inter had gone behind in Udine, and the Rossoneri immediately burst forward in a bid to capitalise on their city rivals shortcomings.
Atalanta continued to battle hard in the middle of the park and this frustrated Leonardo’s men as they searched for space without much joy down the flanks. Despite the lack of space Milan were taking control of possession and the opening goal was looming in the air.
On 22 minutes Nesta flicked on a corner into the path of Ronaldinho. The Brazilian spectacularly volleyed the ball goalbound with an overhead kick, but Consigli managed to block on the line to keep the score sheet clean.
Shortly after Marco Borriello wasted a golden chance to put Milan ahead, when his scuffed shot finished well wide of the visitors goal. The Italian was in a commanding position after Pato had threaded him in, but the hitman seemed rushed as he tried to pull the trigger.
The Rossoneri finally broke the deadlock on the half hour mark when Pato struck on the half volley from 10 yards to beat Consigli on his line. The move had been started by Ronaldinho’s sublime back heel to Ambrosini, but Atalanta should have done better with some poor marking inside the box.
Five minutes before the break Milan doubled their lead and they once again thanked their Brazilian duo for the advantage. Ronaldinho floated an inch perfect ball over the top for Pato, and ‘the Duck’ simply had to round the ‘keeper for his second of the game.
After the re-start it was once again the Diavolo who took the early initiative. Leonardo’s men had the wind in their sails and they were desperate to make the points safe before the visitors had a chance to respond.
The Orobici did just that however on 55 minutes when Valdez beat three men and rifled a shot into the back of the net. The Chilean had done brilliantly to shrug off challenges from Bonera and Nesta, and he left Abbiati no chance with his ruthless strike just inside the 18 yard line.
Milan took regained control on the hour mark when Borriello latched onto Ronaldinho’s missed penalty and fired the re-bound into the roof of the net. Consigli had done well to block the Brazilian’s weak effort from 12 yards, but the Italian showed great determination in order to arrive first at the near post.
The Rossoneri’s third seemed to take the stuffing out of the visitors, and despite a desire to push forward Atalanta were struggling to make any inroads into the Milan box.
15 minutes from time Leonardo was dealt a massive blow when Pato was stopped in his tracks as he pulled his right hamstring. ‘The Duck’ went straight to ground shortly after a quick sprint, and the expression on his face said it all as he was stretchered off under immense pain.
In the closing stages Padoin tested Abbiati with a speculative drive from 20 yards but the Milan glovesman made no mistakes with a timely parry into the safety zone.
The Rossoneri soaked up the pressure as they ran the clock down, and Leonardo’s men were left to celebrate a vital three points in their quest towards the league summit.